The Kerry-Lugar bill: $7.5 billion? No thanks, we’d rather insult you!
Sorry, Hakimullah Mehsud. Your return from the dead isn’t news anymore, since Kerry and Lugar are probably the most commonly quoted names in Pakistan right now. The Kerry-Lugar bill – approved and a cause of spontaneous applause during a meeting – has become the most talked-about subject in the country. Everyone’s jumped in the fray – political parties, analysts, talk show hosts – and as of today, so has one of the country’s richest men. And lest we forget, so has the Pakistani Army.
You’d think people entrusted with the task of governing this turbulent country would be happy at the prospect of $1.5 billion a year, for the next five years. Scratch happy, at least somewhat pleased?
The bill has had so much opposition that sifting through the news stories requires a fair amount of time. (The Taliban should be thanking their lucky stars in their drone-patrolled skies that they never encountered such a united front from Pakistan’s political parties.) The charges against this piece of legislation are countless and the statements range from being exaggerated to hallucinatory.
“An insult” is what the Pakistan army apparently told US General McChrystal. “Its aimed at enslaving the Pakistani nation” screamed the All Parties Conference. It has brought “triumph to India”, said the PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat. There’s even a petition filed against the bill in the Sindh High Court. The NYT has a story from Islamabad on what citizens think. PML-N member and columnist Ayaz Amir wrote last Sunday: “A convicted rapist out on parole would be required to give fewer assurances of good conduct for the future than Pakistan is required to give in order to receive assistance under this legislation.” It even put the TTP in more of a murderous mood.
Just goes on to prove, money can’t buy you love.
And has anyone even read the Kerry-Lugar bill? I doubt it. I finally (after days of procrastination) did and have failed to find anything that could spark such consternation. The Pakistani government has constantly been asking for more aid, wishing that the Kerry-Lugar bill would be passed soon, et al. You’d think they could have sorted out these problems beforehand.
Anywhere in the world, aid comes with conditions attached. Its as simple as that. Its their money.
As Dawn’s oped columnist Cyril Almeida pointed out:
Frankly, the conditions themselves are arguably what the state should be doing in any case; we need to be rid of the curse of militancy and we need to do it for our own good.
But I’ve always compared Pakistan’s reaction to aid proposals to a kid asking his/her dad for 50 bucks and then complaining to the world that dad’s a miser and a tyrant when the father asks what the money is for. And right now, there are a lot of kids and they’re all complaining. Pakistan’s other problems can take a backseat while everyone kicks, screams and yells at the outrage of 7.5 billion dollars.