Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama administration preparing a largely unconditional $1 billion gift to Pakistan

Considering Pakistan's duplicitous nature, the U.S. giving it a billion dollars gives whole new meaning to the jihadis', most notably bin Laden's, predictions that the U.S. will bleed itself dry in the war against jihad. "US readies $1bn gift for Pak," from Times of India, April 29:

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration and the Democrat-controlled US Congress are rushing to get a billion-dollar emergency aid package for Pakistan gift-wrapped before President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Washington DC next week despite warnings from many quarters, including a Bhutto scion, against any freebies.

Prompted by the administration and its Special Representative to Af-Pak Richard Holbrooke, who will testify before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday, lawmakers are expected to take up the matter as early as next week, according to Congressional sources.

While many lawmakers are supportive of a well-deliberated and conditional aid to Pakistan, some influential Senators, notably John Kerry, prefer a less stringent approach that gives Washington and Islamabad enough leeway to coordinate an anti-extremist policy without it being hamstrung by tight Congressional oversight. Although Kerry and the administration would prefer a substantial package of aid, reluctance on part of chary House members could see the immediate package whittled down to around $ 400 million.

Preparatory to action in this regard in Washington, Pakistan claims to have launched an all-out assault against the Taliban elements who had encroached into the country’s settled areas including Buner, an episode that raised alarm in the west about the extremist’ presence only 60 miles from Islamabad.

There have been no first-hand accounts of the fighting or pictures, but the wires are full of stories about the Pakistani army pushback amid dire warnings to the Taliban to back off.

Not everyone is convinced of Pakistan's bonafides in this regard. Islamabad’s action – and motive -- is being questioned by many critics who feel it is mere window-dressing to extract aid during the Zardari visit and the Pakistan army’s heart is not committed to fighting what some believe is its reserve force.

Among those opposing unconditional US aid to Pakistan is Fatima Bhutto, niece of the assassinated former prime minister, who wrote a scathing op-ed this week in an online journal lashing out against Islamabad’s abject surrender to the Taliban.

''It’s phenomenally silly to give that kind of money to a president who, before becoming president, was facing corruption cases in Switzerland, Spain, and England,'' Bhutto, who is studied at New York’s Columbia University, wrote. ''It’s also dangerous.''
''No amount of money, especially in the hands of a famously corrupt government, is going to help Pakistan stave off terror, especially when said government seems more than willing to capitulate to the militants they’re supposed to be using that money to save the world from,'' Bhutto said...

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