May 17, 2011

Lugar Says Pakistan Must Adhere to Past Agreements to Fight Terrorism

Warns Obama Administration Congress Could Limit Assistance

Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement before the committee received testimony from Gen. James L. Jones, who most recently served as National Security Advisor to President Obama:

Our recent hearings have underscored the importance of Pakistan to numerous U.S. national security goals.  Pakistan is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, with a sizeable nuclear arsenal.  It is in a permanent state of hostility towards India, with which the United States has close relations.  It is expanding ties with China, and it borders Iran, a state-sponsor of terrorism with nuclear ambitions.  Although the United States signed its first mutual defense agreement with Pakistan in 1954, we have had great difficulty during the ensuing decades in forming a consistent partnership.

One of the main problems in dealing with Pakistan is that its government is not a monolith, but rather a collection of different power centers that interact in complex ways.  There is the elected civilian government, which over the years has not always been strong or stable; the uniformed military, which has seized power at various junctures; the intelligence service, which has its own independence within the military; and, we are told, a shadowy group of former intelligence agents that can act on its own.  These different actors alternately compete and cooperate with one another, and their influence periodically waxes and wanes.  Equally vexing, each of the players can support U.S. policies one moment, but obstruct them the next.  Add to this mix volatile public elements that can be whipped into an anti-American fervor, and you have a partner who can seem, as some have said, to be both firefighter and arsonist.

Although Pakistan has cooperated with the United States in many significant ways, including the fight against terrorism, Americans are increasingly exasperated by the difficulties of the relationship.  Especially in light of the raid to eliminate Osama bin Laden, who was hiding out for years in Pakistan near Islamabad and military facilities, many critics have accused Pakistan of duplicity, of playing a double game.  The event has created, or perhaps exposed, what Pakistan’s prime minister has called “a trust deficit.”  It is incumbent going forward that the Obama administration and Pakistan’s leaders, both civilian and military, take steps to close this deficit.

That means first, adhering to the agreements and conditions of the various assistance programs that form the most tangible part of the relationship.  Pakistanis must recognize that the United States does not give out blank checks.  The Kerry-Lugar-Berman Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, for instance, passed in 2009, set up a five-year program of civilian assistance to put our ties with the Pakistani people on a long-term basis.  Yet, only a small portion of the available funds have been allocated, in part, because Pakistan has failed to propose many programs that conform to the bill’s criteria.

Similarly, our substantial military aid comes with a requirement that the President certify that Pakistan is making significant efforts towards combating terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their affiliates.  After the raid against bin Laden, it is an open question whether the President could make that determination.  Going forward, Pakistan must do much more than it has to root out terrorists in Pakistan.  This includes the Haqqani network in northwest Pakistan, which launches attacks against Americans in Afghanistan, and the Taliban, which can find refuge virtually unmolested in those parts of Pakistan along Afghanistan’s southern border.   The Obama Administration should make clear to Pakistan’s military that going after some terrorists while coddling others will not be tolerated.

It should also communicate that the Pakistani military’s deliberate fomenting of anti-American demonstrations to oppose U.S. initiatives and Pakistan’s own civilian leadership is not acceptable.

The revelation of bin Laden’s whereabouts in Pakistan was a setback to U.S.-Pakistani ties.  But this event could lay the foundation for a more genuine alliance if it forces both sides to confront honestly the contradictions that have plagued the relationship for so many years.  An independent, credible investigation into who in Pakistan helped support bin Laden would be a good place to start.


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