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Saturday, July 13, 2024
HomeNewsObama Administration Sneaks $1.6B In Foreign Aid To Pakistan

Obama Administration Sneaks $1.6B In Foreign Aid To Pakistan

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has attempted to sneak more than $1.6 billion in military and economic aid to Pakistan, despite foreign aid being suspended after relations between the two countries soured over the Osama bin Laden raid and the U.S. airstrikes against Pakistani soldiers.

Despite the recent debt ceiling debate, which led to Fitch Ratings revising the U.S. credit outlook downward, administration officials, congressional Democrats, neoconservatives and congressional aides, have all said relations have improved enough to again allow the foreign aid to be transferred.

American and NATO supply routes to Afghanistan are open, while controversial U.S. drone strikes are down. U.S. and Pakistan officials recently announced the restart of their “strategic dialogue” after a prolonged silence between the countries. The new Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, also announced he will be traveling to Washington this week for talks with President Barack Obama.

However, the summer plagued the administration with foreign policy debates at home surrounding the coup in Egypt against the Obama-backed Morsi government, and a failed attempt to strike Syria after a chemical weapons attack. The foreign policy debacles made Obama look small and weak on a  big international stage, thus the administration has resolved not to promote the transfer of foreign aid to Pakistan. Obviously, in an attempt to not bite the hand that feeds, neither has the Pakistani leader.

Congress, quietly and with a coalition of lock-step Democrats and neoconservatives, has thus far authorized most of the money the Obama administration proposed, and it will start transferring early next year.

Over a three week span, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development informed Congress that it had plans to ramp up assistance, which is mostly and supposedly dedicated to helping Pakistan fight terrorism. The Obama administration believes that their foreign aid proposal is essential if they are to begin to withdraw troops from neighboring Afghanistan next year.

They state they are trying to leave a stable government behind, but the Obama administration raced to the exits in Iraq, as well, leaving behind the only functioning representative government in the Middle East other than Israel, who was ill-equipped to deal with security. Iraq has now begun to fall apart, wasting tremendous U.S. blood and treasure sacrificed and left behind.

The Obama administration claims they are not pro-nation building, but the funds focus on a wide range of nation-building items, including help for Pakistani law enforcement and a multibillion-dollar dam in disputed territory.

In November of 2011, the U.S. mistakenly killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers and Islamabad responded by shutting land supply routes for U.S and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The routes stayed closed until it received a U.S. apology seven months later.

Administration officials in the State Department claimed that the U.S. hadn’t conducted any significant military financing for Pakistan, because of the “challenging and rapidly changing period of U.S.-Pakistan relations” in 2011 and 2012. The department emphasized how so-called important it was to beef-up Pakistan’s anti-terrorism capabilities. They hope better communications, night vision capabilities, maritime security and precision striking with F-16 fighter jets, will do just that.

The department told Congress — even though they should be asking — on July 25, that it would spend $295 million to help Pakistan’s military. And just 12 days later it announced another $386 million more. On Aug. 13 even more proposals came pouring in worth $705 million, which focus on helping Pakistani troops and air forces operating in the militant hotbeds of western Pakistan, and other counterinsurgency efforts.

The Obama administration had until the end of September to provide Congress with a “reprogramming” plan, or they would be forfeiting a portion of the money, which spans federal budgets from 2009-2013.

The officials who gave this story up for media coverage weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the aid relationship before Sharif’s visit. But they said the money would start reaching Pakistan in 2014, even though it would take several years to completely transfer the funds, which will end up untraceable once they hit the regime’s hands.

“Pakistan’s long-term stability is of critical national security interest to the U.S., so we remain committed to helping achieve a more secure, democratic and prosperous state, including through continued civilian and military assistance,” said Dan Feldman, the State Department’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said the assistance plan will deliver results for both countries — although, strangely, he didn’t specify whether those would be good or bad results — and enhance Pakistan’s ability to fight terrorism.

In its notifications to Congress, the department described fighting terrorism as a mutual concern, but they said almost nothing about the whether or not the will of Pakistan’s government, army and intelligence services is even to crack down on militant groups. These groups have often operated with impunity in Pakistan while wreaking havoc on U.S. and international forces across the border in Afghanistan.

Many U.S. leaders, with good reason, have relentlessly questioned Pakistan’s interest and commitment to counterterrorism.

In 2011, Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the militant Haqqani network as a “veritable arm” of Pakistani intelligence. Lawmakers, and even the Obama administration, have admitted there is Pakistani support for the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, as well as other militant groups.

Last month, the Obama administration sent officials from several agencies to attend closed-doors briefings with members of the House and Senate foreign relations committees. Quietly, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has cleared all of the notifications and requests, while arguing how concerned they are about the debt. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is still considering a $280 million bloc of military aid.

“The committee held up the projects to get more information and express concerns,” said the office of Rep. Ed Royce, R-CA, the House panel’s chairman. “Though they went forward, the committee continues its close oversight.”

While Washington has publicly challenged Islamabad to step up its fight against militant groups, Pakistan’s biggest complaint has been the huge surge in drone strikes on terrorist targets, which Pakistanis see as violations of their sovereignty. The number of attacks has dropped dramatically this year.

The countries say they’re now moving past the flaps and mishaps that soured their partnership in recent years. During an August trip to Pakistan, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the restart of a high-level “strategic dialogue” with Pakistan on fighting terrorism, controlling borders and fostering investment.

Nation-building projects, the very chief criticism of the Bush administration by then-Senator Barack Obama, is disguised as economic aid programs, including support for the Diamer-Basha dam near the conflict prone Pakistani border with India. While the AP and Reuters have attempted to underscore the potential for “tremendous benefit,” they have neglected to highlight the hypocrisy, international cronyism, and the potential for disaster since the border is still in dispute and the scene of frequent violence.

There is little wonder why the Pakistani government has been unable to secure money for the project from the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank is waiting to hear from the United States and India before providing financing to help construction. The dam faces massive funding shortfalls for a reason.

In its July 24 notification to Congress, USAID claimed that the project could cost up to $15 billion — at least — and take a full decade to complete. The agency promised only to provide “financial and technical assistance” for studies, including on environmental and social aspects, while pointing at its construction as a means of helping a country with chronic power shortages. However, the nation cranks much of its nuclear power up to churn uranium.

State Department officials put the bill for the studies at $20 million, which is wholly unreliable historically speaking.

Typical rhetoric designed to distract from the realities of the U.S. financial condition and Pakistani ties to terrorism, has dominated this debate among Washington elites. If only the dam were ultimately built, wrote the USAID, it could provide electricity for 60 million people and 1 million acres of crop land, and provide a ready supply of water for millions more. It noted that Pakistani officials have sought American support at the “highest levels.”

Suspiciously, congressional aides said Pakistan’s government has lobbied particularly hard for the dam money to be unlocked.

Pakistan’s embassy in Washington refused to comment on the aid or say if Sharif would bring up any specific programs in talks at the White House.

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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