The Kerry Luger bill is essentially a non military aid package granted to Pakistan by the U.S in view of its precarious economic condition due to its indulgence in the war on terror as a front line allied state.
This bill grants Pakistan $1.5 billion annually for five years and comes along with stringent conditions on how to distribute and invest this money.
The conditions along with this bill come in the shape of military as well as economic checks which have instigated a lot of debate in this country and agitated its bloggers as well.
Shayan Khan at Pak Spectator writes an open letter to Mr. John Kerry:
Pakistan’s concerns over Kerry-Lugar bill are there for sure, but they are not that important. The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has backed a bill that would triple economic assistance for Pakistan, a key US ally in the fight against terrorism, to 7.5 billion dollars over five years. But it perhaps come as a surprise for the Kerry that Pakistanis don’t really think much of any aid or such things. They want US to take them as humans like themselves and to understand that the people dying from the drone Attacks are 99% Pakistanis, and only perhaps 1% are anything to do with militancy. (The) war on terror has given Pakistan the gory gifts of suicide attacks and bomb blasts and the economic life in Pakistan has come to a grinding halt.
Adil Najam talks about the trust deficit between Pakistan and the U.S.A in relation to the aid promised by this bill:
The debate we are now seeing is one more manifestation of the deep deficits of trust that have marked all US-Pakistan relations. In the absence of trust, Pakistanis – even those who might otherwise support this Bill – simply refuse to accept that America could possibly be interested in Pakistan’s interests. For the very same reasons, Americans – even those who strongly wish to see a stronger Pakistan – simply refuse to acknowledge the intensity with which Pakistan has always sought “friends, not masters.”
Hamid Abbasi at Chowrangi stresses on the general perception of this bill in Pakistan:
Being here nearly 10,000 miles away I and many like me have no real grudge with the amount, but it’s the conditionality of the bill which has really pinched every soul. For 8 years they have hijacked our national dream, have given us a war that wasn’t our originally, taken our sovereign right of existence and in the end they have repaid us in a manner which shouldn’t be strange to the realist, but of course we have for long turned into an idealist masses, linking false expectations and desires from an outside power.
After the announcement of this bill and its review by Pakistan's armed forces (perhaps the biggest power in this land), there were major reservations put forward to the political setup by them and these issues are being discussed with the U.S government.
Amjad Malik at Teeth Maestro comments on this issue pointing to the conditions put on Pakistan army:
This aid package may be doable or not but is quite indicative that civil rule is asked to do what it cannot deliver in 100 years, but may lose what it has got ‘the Govt’. In the past, President tried to be friend with India single-handedly but failed. Interior Ministry tried to bring (ISI) Inter Services Intelligence under its control, but in vain. Now committing to curb military and control its promotions is such a thorny issue which may cost the civilians its Govt and leaders their lives. We have seen what happened to Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif when they acted without consensus and consultation amongst political forces. One could not save his life and the other had to remain in exile for years.
Obviously the strong reaction from Pakistan has had its impact on the American citizen media as well, with commentators urging a rethink of dolling out aid without results.
Sheila Herrling at Huffington post talks about reworking the U.S aid program:
The Kerry-Lugar bill needs to make sure that the coherence of U.S. policies – how they either work in synergy or at cross-purposes — is evaluated and strengthened to get the biggest bang from our foreign assistance bucks.
Patricia Lee Sharpe takes it one comic step further by examining the bill as a Pakistani would on the The whirled view. She notes:
Reading in my Pakistani persona, I found myself getting more and more angry. I was in the mood to throw all 33 pages across the room—or maybe to rip them up and stomp on them. “Is nothing to be free of American meddling and dictation?” I find my Pakistani self raging. “It was fine, it was innocuous, back when the yahoos wanted to do a little project here, a little project there, a seminar, a conference, but scaled up like this! They want to take over our whole life, beginning tomorrow!”
The blog Remember Jenkin's Ear just terms the whole bill as a major pain!
On balance, I'm inclined to wonder whether Kerry-Lugar is worth it. The Pakistanis seem to be really upset, the Indians are annoyed, and if it follows in the tradition of American foreign aid generally, it will be more helpful to Americans well placed to take advantage of the bill than to foreigners. The Pakistanis who object are correct that the conditions on this aid infringe Pakistani sovereignty. I think the Indians are also correct in suggesting that we probably cannot trust the Pakistan army. So on a practical level, this aid package is a can of worms. There is also an ethical issue. It is not obvious why Pakistanis should get the aid while Indians, who aren't tolerating groups planning terrorist attacks in the US, don't get similar aid.
With a major redraft of the irritating conditions in the Kerry Lugar bill in the offing and a military initiative in Waziristan is about to begin, it still remains to be seen who's ball will roll in who's court.