Among the promising aspects of the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2008, in terms of the message it sends to Pakistan, is that it makes military aid, but not nonmilitary aid, conditional on certification by the Department of State that Pakistani security forces are “making concerted efforts” against al-Qaeda, that they are “making concerted efforts” to prevent the Afghan Taliban from using Pakistani territory, and that they are not “materially interfering in political or judicial processes.” The uncoupling of civilian aid from sanctions would neutralize a recurrent and well-founded Pakistani fear that the United States is mostly interested in supporting military governments in Pakistan.
Another element of the legislation that will be welcome in Pakistan is the extension of aid throughout Pakistan, not just in the border areas next to Afghanistan. There will be challenges on the American end in implementing this policy shift, however. Headlines in U.S. newspapers and sound bites on our campaign trails continue to emphasize pressuring Pakistan to block al-Qaeda and Taliban militants from using Pakistani territory as a safe haven from which to launch attacks in Afghanistan. If official U.S. suspicions of ties between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and al-Qaeda harden into an established perception of fact, the idea that aid can yield a “democracy dividend” will be exposed to even greater skepticism.
No U.S. president is likely to abandon the military option in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but if Pakistan is to be fully enlisted in the fight against them we must support a broader-based counter-insurgency program in Pakistan that would deliver on the expectations of Pakistanis for economic, human, and political development. During our field research for this report, we were struck by the number of Pakistanis who insisted that improvements, even in specific areas, depend on establishment of a democratic process, and we heard a lively and freewheeling debate on how to accomplish this. Democratization inevitably requires a retreat from political influence on the part of Pakistan’s military, which over long years has come to enjoy a privileged position not only in Pakistan’s politics but also throughout its economy.
The Pakistani public may benefit more from trade with the United States than it does from U.S. aid to its government. In 2007, $3.5 billion of exports went from Pakistan to the United States, versus $1.9 billion in U.S. exports to Pakistan. By far, Pakistan’s largest source of export receipts in bilateral trade with the United States is textiles — $1.3 billion in 2007. The proposed new policy, with the promise of greatly increasing bilateral non-military aid and stimulating trade, marks a sea change in the Pakistan-American relationship.7
7 For figures on U.S. aid see Rick Barton and Craig Cohen, “A Perilous Course: U.S. Strategy and Assistance to Pakistan,” Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic & International Studies, August 2007, http://www.csis.org/images/stories/pcr/070727_pakistan.pdf. Barton and Cohen state: “Of the $10.58 billion in assistance dispensed to Pakistan since 9/11, 60 percent has gone toward Coalition Support Funds (CSF). CSF is money intended to reimburse U.S. coalition partners for their assistance in the war on terrorism, and it is not considered by the U.S. government as assistance. Roughly 15 percent of the funds provided to Pakistan, or close to $1.6 billion, has been dedicated to security assistance. The Pakistanis have spent most of this money on purchases of major weapons systems. Another 15 percent has been allocated toward budget support, which is offered as direct cash transfers to the government of Pakistan. This money is intended to provide macroeconomic stability and to free up funds for social spending, but few transparent accountability mechanisms are built in. This allocation leaves roughly 10 percent of U.S. government assistance provided specifically for development and humanitarian assistance in Pakistan, including the U.S. response to the October 2005 earthquake.” For trade data see, U.S Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics, Country and Product Trade Data, http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/country/index.html.
For a summary of the new aid legislation, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2008, see http://lugar.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=300696. The bill itself is posted at http://lugar.senate.gov/sfrc/pdf/Pakistan.pdf.