CHIDANAND RAJGHATTA, TNN
Pakistan has been put on a US legislative terror watch.
Effectively implicating Pakistan in acts of terrorism in the region and across the world, including against India, US lawmakers have imposed stringent conditions on Pakistan (requiring monitoring of compliance by Washington) while okaying a five-year, $ 7.5 billion dole for Islamabad till 2014.
The conditions, which should settle some unease in New Delhi that the US is blind to terrorism affecting India, include six-monthly evaluations by Washington of efforts by Pakistan to A) disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other extremist and terrorist groups in the FATA and settled areas; B) eliminate the safe havens of such forces in Pakistan; C) close terrorist camps, including those of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed; D) cease all support for extremist and terrorist groups; and (E) prevent attacks into neighboring countries.
Although there is no specific reference to India in keeping with Pakistan’s plea that any India-specific conditions would be humiliating, the so-called Kerry-Lugar bill leaves no doubt that Islamabad risks losing US aid if it keeps up its terror campaign against India. Underscoring the language in the entire bill is the premise that Pakistan has been using terrorism as state policy against India, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said recently.
Section 203 of the Senate Bill S. 1707 enjoins the Secretary of State to certify that Pakistan has made progress on matters such as "ceasing support, including by any elements within the Pakistan military or its intelligence agency, to extremist and terrorist groups, particularly to any group that has conducted attacks against the United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan, or against the territory or people of neighboring countries."
The Secretary of State also has to certify that Pakistan is stopping terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed from operating in the territory of Pakistan, including carrying out cross-border attacks into neighboring countries, dismantling terrorist bases of operations, including in Quetta and Muridke, and taking action when provided with intelligence about high-level terrorist targets.
Muridke is widely known to be a terrorist pilgrim center with jihadis of all hues and vintage gathering there for congregations patronized by the Pakistani intelligence establishment. Quetta is where western agencies suspect Pakistan is harboring the Taliban shura headed by the one-eyed Mullah Omar.
The legislation has caused much disquiet in Pakistan, where there has been long-time denial of its practice of terrorism, despite telephone and intelligence intercepts implicating its top generals, including Pervez Musharraf and Parvez Ashfaq Kiyani, in terrorism. In more recent times, Pakistani military personnel and special forces’ commandos seconded to jihadi groups, such as Ilyas Kashmiri, have been killed in US drone strikes, exposing the nexus between the Pakistani military and terrorism, and US knowledge of the connection and its intent to act.
Proxies of Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence establishment are now pillorying the Zardari-Gilani civilian government for submitting to excessive US scrutiny and oversight, saying it is ‘insulting’ and sends a wrong message to the world. In fact, according to some reports from Pakistan, the military itself is angry about the bill, which clearly seeks to extend Pakistani civilian control over the country, and has flagged it for discussion.
Section 302 of the bill enjoins the Secretary of State, in consultation with Secretary of Defense, to assess and report to Congress every six months whether "the Government of Pakistan exercises effective civilian control of the military, including a description of the extent to which civilian executive leaders and parliament exercise oversight and approval of military budgets, the chain of command, the process of promotion for senior military leaders, civilian involvement in strategic guidance and planning, and military involvement in civil administration."
Pakistan has not escaped US oversight of its nuclear proliferation activities either, although, in keeping with Islamabad’s sensitivities, there is no specific mention of A.Q.Khan. Section 203 (C) of the bill requires the Secretary of State to certify that the Government of Pakistan "is continuing to cooperate with the United States in efforts to dismantle supplier networks relating to the acquisition of nuclear weapons-related materials, such as providing relevant information from or direct access to Pakistani nationals associated with such networks."
The Secretary is also required to provide a six-monthly assessment to Congress of "whether assistance provided to Pakistan has directly or indirectly aided the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, whether by the diversion of United States assistance or the reallocation of Pakistan’s financial resources that would otherwise be spent for programs and activities unrelated to its nuclear weapons program."