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Diversion of US Aid
Mush has ‘weakened’ Pakistan position
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Pervez Musharraf"s admission that US military aid given to Pakistan during his tenure was diverted to strengthen defences against India has created ripples in the US Congress where lawmakers are finalising an aid package that would triple US assistance to Pakistan. Congressional sources and analysts say the former Pakistani president has done his country a great disservice by raising a red flag about future US aid to Pakistan.

In an interview with Pakistan’s Express News television channel, Musharraf defended the diversion of aid saying: “What we did, we did right. We have to ensure Pakistan's security. From whichever side the threat comes, we will use the entire force there.” Cognisant of the repercussions of his comments in Washington, he had retorted: “Whoever wishes to be angry, let them be angry, why should we bother? We have to maintain our security, and the Americans should know, and the whole world should know that we won't compromise our security, and will use the equipment everywhere.”

On Wednesday, Musharraf backtracked. “I have never said Pakistan violated any agreement,” he said in a statement reported by Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper. However, congressional sources say the damage has been done. “The barn door has been opened, as they say,” a source told The Tribune. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the source added that “it’s safe to say that this claim has caught the attention of many interested parties here and may be a factor in the finalising of a planned future aid package.”

Marvin Weinbaum, a South Asia scholar at the Middle East Institute, told The Tribune he was not surprised by Musharraf's comments. “Everyone knows this has been happening, but Musharraf's admission only weakens Pakistan's position,” he said.

Congressional aides have been working hard to finetune legislation that seeks to triple US assistance to $1.5 billion per year to Pakistan. The legislation authorises $7.5 billion over the next five years. The money is intended to emphasise economic growth and development, and advocates an additional $7.5 billion over the subsequent five years. But, the legislation de-links military from non-military aid. The legislation, known as the Kerry-Lugar bill, gets its name from its sponsors -Sens. John Kerry, a Democrat, and Richard Lugar, a Republican.

The bill conditions military assistance on certification that the Pakistani security forces are: making concerted efforts to prevent Al-Qaida and associated terrorist groups from operating in the territory of Pakistan as well as prevent the Taliban from using the territory of Pakistan as a sanctuary from which to launch attacks within Afghanistan.



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