Tuesday, November 30

Wikileaks plus first disbursements from 2009 US aid bill for Pakistan already under scrutiny for graft. Senator Richard Lugar please take note.

December 4 UPDATE
Last week Michael Wright prodded and poked Pundita into explaining, in paint-by-numbers fashion, how ISAF can wrest a real victory in Afghanistan and why the best approach the USA can take to Pakistan is as little as possible. See the forthcoming post -- working title: What would Genghis Khan do? How ISAF can beat the enemy in Afghanistan. The post will be published whenever I finish transcribing and editing the conversation, which I hope will be sometime on Sunday, December 5.

Anti-American rally in Peshawar, October 7, 2009

(Reuters photograph)

The On Park Street blogger, posting yesterday at Chicago Boyz, reported learning from Senator Richard Lugar's website that in his capacity as the ranking Republican Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee he "exercised close oversight of U.S. policy in Pakistan and participated in more than 15 hearings related to ongoing affairs in the country from 2003 to the present."

The Wikipedia article on Lugar mentions that he along with Senator Joseph Biden, his Democrat counterpart on the committee, were awarded the Hilal-i-Pakistan (Crescent of Pakistan) Award from the government of Pakistan "for their continued support of the country." Given all the billions USD that Lugar and Biden (the original co-sponsors of the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009) were proposing to throw at Pakistan on top of the $15billion in aid heaped on it since 2001, one might have hoped the award was accompanied by a brass band and a banquet.

But no; news of the planned aid package ($7.5 billion to be dispersed over 5 years to civilian projects) was met with a chorus of fears in Pakistan that the United States was trying to direct the country's internal affairs. This built to such an outpouring of anti-Americanism on the Pakistan Street and to such umbrage among Pakistan's Parliamentarians that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee scrambled to debunk any and all possible fears in Pakistan that the United States wanted anything for its aid beyond to helpful. When that assurance seemed to have no effect the sponsors of the aid bill, including Senator Lugar, heaped clarifications on top of explanations:
“The legislation does not seek in any way to compromise Pakistan’s sovereignty, impinge on Pakistan’s national security interests, or micromanage any aspect of Pakistani military or civilian operations.”
However, the displays of injured pride, the street theater, the entire show, was just another day's work of haggling at the bazaar, a clever propaganda campaign mounted by Pakistan's Army Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Kayani -- or as unsporting Americans might term it, a scam:

November 30, 2010, Dawn
(Karachi) The whistle-blower website Wikileaks released sensitive documents alleging that the Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s opposition led to the conflict on the Kerry-Lugar Bill as it was going to result in greater civilian control on the military, DawnNews reported. [...] According to the released documents, General Kayani has learnt from the mistakes made by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf. He is using the parliament and the government while staying in the background, the documents allege. [...]
Now here a reasonable person might ask why Lugar et al. were taken in, given the intell available to them through the diplomatic dispatch on Kayani's moves. For the answer, watch carefully, don't blink:

From John Batchelor's notes on his interview last night with U.S. House of Representatives Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who is a Ranking Member on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence:
In re: WikiLeaks - why was a private first class [Bradley Manning] with no known worth in connection with State, sitting in Baghdad, able to access information that was way, way over his responsibility?

See John Fund's article in WSJ on Tuesday [Hoekstra on Wikileaks: 'Across the Board Neglect']. Government got lazy after 9/11 by expanding a DoD database named SIPRNet to accommodate more info sharing: State, DoD, CI: 500,000 people in or connected to the Executive had access - but it was all denied to Congress, including to Rep Hoekstra in Yemen on 1 Jan 2010 ("Sorry, we can't tell you on orders from the White House.")

Now it's all in WikiLeaks and the entire planet has it. Extremely insulting, and dangerous to the American people.

Review: ranking member of House Intell Committee flew to Yemen for real-time info on US policy; was refused; data were that AQAP was bombing and it was being disguised as Yemeni activity. [John Batchelor's comment] To deny the people is to deny the democracy.
By the "the people" John means not the public but the representatives of the American people, the Congress.

If you're having a hard time wrapping your mind around the concept that vital information would be withheld from key congressional defense/intelligence committees -- which can't make informed recommendations without such data -- while thousands of low-level civilian government and military employees had access to the data, you should listen to the interview; it's enough to make your blood boil if you're an American. Here is the link to the WABC-77 radio podcast of the interview, which is about 10 minutes in length. (You can also download the interview; see the WABC archive page for the John Batchelor Show, 10 PM segment, Monday.)

So the bizarre way in which access to the diplomatic dispatches was meted out helped blind U.S. decision-makers just as surely as turf-protecting at government agencies had done in earlier years -- a problem that the shared network was meant to solve! That, I submit, is the biggest surprise to emerge thus far from the Wikileaks documents dump.

Yet the revelation doesn't fully explain why the U.S. military and executive and congressional branches have consistently made bad calls on Pakistan because this has been going on for more than a half century -- ever since the U.S. first became involved with Pakistan. Yet these bad calls weren't seen as such until NATO floundered in Afghanistan. That finally put a crimp in the style of Washington's anti-Russia crowd but over decades the crowd and its counterpart in Europe looked the other way while Pakistan ran riot because they saw the country as a weapon first against the Soviet Union then against Russia.

Joe Biden, the original co-sponsor of the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, has always been part of the 'Get Russia' contingent in official Washington. I am not sure about Lugar. But one only needs to read his profile at Wikipedia or the transcript of his recent discussion at the Council of Foreign Relations, to see how he has prioritized his work on defense threats during his decades in Washington. This observation isn't a criticism of his focus on securing Russian nukes and reducing the number of nuclear weapons but that area of defense is clearly his greatest area of expertise, not Pakistan.

Lugar's situation is the story of all U.S. Members of Congress; they are pulled in several directions, so it's always a great accomplishment when a congressional can become expert in just one area of policy. That, plus the hyphenated aspect of how Washington perennially views Pakistan has meant there are no Pakistan experts in the Washington policy establishment. It's never been "Pakistan" in Washington's view. It's been Pakistan-Cold War, Pakistan-Afghanistan, Pakistan-Russia, Pakistan-War on Terror -- and since 2009, Pakistan-India.

The upshot was clear in Lugar's wide-ranging discussion at CFR and the questions that were put to him. He made only a glancing mention of Pakistan:
Where is our aid money going? How are we effecting these changes in Afghanistan that we want with regard to children or women or everybody who has been in the dispossessed category? And the -- those are going to be more and more difficult issues to answer.

It's the same over on the Pakistani side.

You know, I've -- my name is attached -- first of all it was the Biden-Lugar bill, then it became the Kerry-Lugar bill, then the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill. But in any event, the excitement of Pakistan at the time was that $1.5 billion would be allocated to Pakistan for a five-year period.

And that was magic, five years; the thought was we'd always leave by the end of five months. But we would be committed to thinking through the basic institutions of the country for that period of time.

However, as Secretary Clinton found when she went over, many of the military people in Pakistan took a very dim view of that, and they said, you're beginning to get into our territory of decision-making. And so now most of them have relented.

But the facts of life are that very little of the first 1.5 billion (dollars) has been spent, for the first year. And some of it has been suggested for the flood relief.

The Pakistanis have said, no, we really want to do the schools and the basic institutions; let's have some other money for the flood. Well, fair enough, but any money getting there that is -- that is supervised, that has some credibility with regard to American taxpayers as to how it's being spent, is sort of hard to come by.
Two months after his remarks came the news that even the first small disbursements were already in trouble due to charges of corruption. Because aid monies disbursed to the Pakistani government become the sovereign property of the government and thus immune to oversight the 2009 aid bill aimed to get around the problem by disbursing the money to NGOs. The workaround simply opened another avenue for graft:
Probe into Kerry-Lugar funds' embezzlement by NGOs in Pakistan
Source: IANS via Sify
Nov 25, 2010

Islamabad, Nov 25 (IANS) Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided to investigate reports of alleged corruption in the funds being disbursed to NGOs for development projects under the Kerry-Lugar bill.

A two-member delegation of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) met NAB chairman Justice (retd.) Deedar Hussain Shah Thursday and 'requested him to look into the matter to ensure transparency in the development schemes aimed for the betterment of Pakistan people'.

The US government has already lodged formal complaints with NAB regarding financial embezzlement in local NGOs and the association of some US nationals with them. Justice Shah assured the US officials that "complaints will be thoroughly investigated and accused will be brought to book".

The Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, signed by US President Barack Obama in October 2009, envisions providing non-military financial assistance worth $7.5 billion to Pakistan in five years. Much of this aid was to disburse through American NGOs for development projects at mass level in Pakistan.

There have been reports that some local NGOs have used US citizens as front men while some others have pooled with the non-governmental organizations in US to squeeze funding. This is against the spirit of the funding agreement and prompted the US authorities to lodge complaints for a formal probe.
Now I'm not going to sit here for another year on this blog and keep finding different ways to give the same recommendation. If Washington can't fathom the reasons for the simple injunction, "Stay out of the bazaar," then bitter experience will continue to be the only teacher of the American military and civilian government.

From queries I've received the cognitive stumbling block about my advice seems to be that tending to one's own business can't be that simple a solution to the Afghan War. It is that simple. If you need to get from New York to Boston in the fastest possible time, do you route your trip through Bangkok? If you need to go buy milk and bread, do you head for an electronics store? Some do such things; some have great difficulty focusing on any one task. But such people should not be involved in war planning nor in the diplomatic exchanges that support it.

Yes, the world could come to an end if something isn't done about Pakistan and yes, al Qaeda is holed up there. But this has nothing to do with the USA -- or NATO -- fighting the war in Afghanistan. The refrain is, 'But what'll we do if Pakistan won't let us bring our supplies through the country?'

I can't imagine Pakistan's military voluntarily giving up the revenue but if the unthinkable happens what you'll do is cross that bridge when you come to it. That's how one gets a task done. If Pakistan's military jacks up their price, figure on what you can afford and if the cost is too high tell them, 'I guess that means we'll have to ask Afghan tribes to teach our soldiers to live off the land. And we'll have to cut down on the supplies we order and the number of troops we've deployed.'

That's all; make do with what's available instead of creating a veritable universe of distractions that only cause the years and the body bags to pile up.

If ISAF can't invade Pakistan, then al Qaeda on their side of the border is the Pak military's problem; the ISAF problem is to pick off al Qaeda when they step across the Pak border.

If Pakistan's government invites ISAF in; if they allow it to fight battles against al Qaeda and give it all necessary help, that's a different story. Otherwise, ISAF should focus on plugging up the holes. Al Qaeda will not spend weeks clambering over remote mountain passes just to blow up a few Coalition soldiers; al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are driving through the border checkpoints, not playing Sherpa.

And the USA should lavish all the attention it's been giving Pakistan on Afghanistan instead. That's how the U.S. military will win hearts and minds: just do your job, the one you told the Afghans you were going to do. That's all.

There is another way to play it, but that way is not open to Washington because the policy establishment doesn't understand the Pakistanis and has no interest in understanding them. There is no simpatico -- and that's okay because the USA is in that part of the world to fight a war. It stops being okay when Washington tries to beat the Pakistanis at games Americans don't understand. It stops being okay when Americans patronize them. It stops being okay when Americans try to strategize outside their experience.

Now do you want to see where all the U.S. machinations have led; what the U.S. has accomplished with Pakistan's military command? For all the money spent, all the time invested, all the carrots and sticks, Washington has accomplished nothing. Kayani has not budged from his views, and one doesn't need to be logged onto SIPRNet to learn this; just look at today's issue of Dawn. To return to the report about Kayani and Wikileaks:
[...] The correspondence [from Jasmine Zerinini, Adviser on international and strategic affairs to the Permanent Secretary for National Defence in the French Cabinet] sheds light on the Pakistan Army’s policies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
[Kayani] is becoming an obstacle to any major change in the country’s policy pertaining to Fata.

Zerinini’s correspondence also stated that the West has lost the opportunity to crush the Afghan Taliban with Pakistan’s help.

The correspondence stated that with aid coming in from the Gulf States, the Haqqani network has grown too strong, that defeating it will not be easy for the Pakistani military. [...]
And from another report in today's issue of Dawn (the unnamed senior military official is Kayani, who is also the de facto ruler of Pakistan at this time):
Pakistan the "most bullied US ally"
By Cyril Almeida

RAWALPINDI: On the day WikiLeaks released a slew of American diplomatic cables revealing, among other things, tensions between the US and Pakistan over nuclear matters, a top Pakistani military official claimed the country “has transited from the `most sanctioned ally` to the `most bullied ally`” of the US.

The comments were part of a wide-ranging briefing given to editors, anchors and columnists on Sunday. The timing of the briefing appeared to be a coincidence, having been scheduled before the WikiLeaks information became public. All comments were made strictly on the condition of anonymity being maintained.

Detailing frank exchanges between the uppermost echelons of the Pakistan military and the Obama administration, the senior military official listed a catalogue of complaints the `people of Pakistan` have against the US.

These include: the US still has a `transactional` relationship with Pakistan; the US is interested in perpetuating a state of `controlled chaos` in Pakistan; and, perhaps most explosively given the WikiLeaks` revelations, the “real aim of US strategy is to de-nuclearise Pakistan”.

The official also repeatedly stressed that the `frames of reference` of the US and Pakistan with regard to regional security matters “can never be the same and this must be acknowledged”. Furthermore, the official claimed, the dichotomy between short-term US interests and long-term Pakistani security interests needs to be kept in mind at all times.

When asked about the outlook for relations between the US and Pakistan in the year ahead, the military commander gave a downbeat assessment: “I see difficulties and pitfalls. Things are so complex (in the region).”

On Afghanistan, the official suggested the Americans need to “clearly identify and state the end conditions in Afghanistan”. The commander also claimed the lack of clarity on the Americans` part was because “either they aren`t willing to state them (the desired `end conditions`) or they don`t know themselves”.

Giving a personal assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, the senior official suggested what is needed in the neighbouring country is a “minimum agenda with broad public support”.

Elaborating on that minimum agenda, the official said there “are indicators that the parties to the conflict in Afghanistan can renounce Al Qaeda and ask it to leave Afghanistan”.

Stressing that in Afghanistan the “peace may never be complete, there may be no permanent stability and uncontested power may never establish itself”, the official suggested a minimalist, three-step sequential process towards a “peaceful and stable” Afghanistan.

First, violence in Afghanistan will need to be brought down, and for this “some concessions may have to be made”. Next, all parties would have to renounce Al Qaeda. And finally, some kind of consensus on a future Afghan constitution would have to be negotiated keeping in mind the “history, culture and geography” of the country.

The official rejected the possibility of Pakistan intensifying efforts to interdict militants crossing into Afghanistan: “If we have to look after the border as well as settled areas, the valleys (in the tribal areas), well, that`s mutually exclusive…. Helmand and Kandahar are hundreds of kilometres from the (Pak-Afghan) border. Kabul is far away from North Waziristan. If they (troops in Afghanistan) want to catch them, why don`t they?”

The senior army official had harsh comments for the Afghan government. Recounting the frequent Afghan accusations against this country — Pakistan is keeping the Taliban as `an option`; Pakistan is `shielding the Quetta Shura`; Pakistan is `harbouring and supporting the Haqqanis`, etc — the senior officer responded with a list of Pakistani grievances.

“Pakistan is deliberately being kept in the dark regarding peace efforts…. Pakistan has suffered because of Afghanistan the most…. Many Afghans in leadership role continue to hold malice against Pakistan,” the official claimed.

However, the official added “the bottom line is, destinies of Pakistan and Afghanistan are intertwined and must be seen as one…. An early end to conflict in Afghanistan is key to Pakistan.”

Inevitably, India featured in the comments on both Afghanistan and the US.

Regarding Afghan-India relations, the official said, “Pakistan has no right or desire to dictate Afghanistan`s relations with any country, including India. But Pakistan expects Afghanistan will be mindful of legitimate security concerns (of Pakistan).”

On the triangle of US-Pak-India relations, the commander had this to offer: “The people of Pakistan measure the strength of US-Pak relations on the scale of US-India partnership.”

The commander went on to argue that while Pakistan could not afford to be in a “state of perpetual conflict with India” and has to “strike a balance between defence and development”, “we cannot afford to ignore our basic defence needs.”In sum, the comments on Afghanistan, India and the US suggest the Pakistan Army`s `India-centric` approach to strategic issues is still very much in place, with only minor adjustments made to accommodate the changed regional security environment in the 21st century.

In detailed comments on the military`s approach to North Waziristan Agency, the senior official said, “(The US) has an increased focus on North Waziristan for understandable reasons.”

But the official added there was serious domestic cause for concern, too: “Most terrorist attacks inside Pakistan originate from North Waziristan. So the question is not if but when and how to tackle it militarily.”

Nevertheless, citing three factors, the official downplayed the possibility of an imminent operation in NWA. First, the official said, South Waziristan needs to be resettled. Second, the country had to prepare for the `serious blowback` of an operation in NWA, which would include terrorist attacks in the cities and a fresh wave of Internally Displaced Persons.

Third, the official stressed the need for the “creation of a political consensus”. Referring to a similar consensus developed in the run-up to Operation Rah-i-Rast in Swat, the official suggested politicians, the media and the Pakistani public would have to demonstrate their support for a military operation in NWA before the army would undertake one.

When told of Prime Minister Gilani`s comment that there is no need for a fresh consensus because the support for the operation in South Waziristan also extends to North Waziristan, the official responded sharply: “I will not do it unless there is a political consensus on North Waziristan.”
In short, Kayani is going to change his views only when Pakistan's internal pressures cause him to do so. And this was made very clear last night during John Batchelor's discussion with Arif Rafiq, who routinely reports on the Pakistani view for John's audience. From John's summary of the discussion (it's the second interview on the 10 PM podcast):
Arif Rafiq, Pakistan Policy Blog, and Tom Joscelyn, Long War Journal, in re: Dawn is leaking WikiLeaks: [the Pakistani view is that] US policy is to strip Pakistan of nuclear capacity by producing controlled chaos. US three goals are to denuclearize, demilitarize, and de-Islamicize Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is trying to delay important maneuvers until the clock runs out on the US in Afghanistan. Everybody is playing a double game: sponsoring jihadist attacks and ostensibly supporting the US. Complicated, multi-sided game. Emir of Qatar says, "The Iranians speak a hundred words; you can believe one" - this can be applied to all the players. Iran calls WikiLeaks documents all a U.S. plot.

Six NATO troops killed by Afghan police - at least the fifth time in 13 months that Afghan soldiers or police have turned their weapons on their NATO partners. Previous cases looked like Taliban infiltration.
But it was Tom Joscelyn who got off the best line. I don't have the exact quote, but he said in effect that the right approach for the United States in dealing with Pakistan is to learn to play it straight, to speak with complete frankness.

Tom is right. Playing it straight is the only way to communicate when you don't know how to bargain by rules that are thousands of years older than yours.

1 comment:

Nagarajan Sivakumar said...

I am from India and all I can say is that you have more knowledge on what has been going on with the United States and Pakistan post 9/11 than the entire defense/civilian establishment in the United States.

It is a truly scary thought - and i don't want to offend you in any way. But the fact that a blogger can actually think with more clarity on the mess that is Pakistan than just about any one in the US political or military establishment spooks me out.

Wow. just wow.May be you should consider running for Congress ?