[This letter was first published by The Nation.]
Marvi Memon refused to meet Mrs.Clinton
November 3, 2009
Dear Secretary Clinton,
Whilst the message from you and your government is that of peace and friendship, the Kerry Lugar Bill passed by your legislative branch has been one of the main stumbling blocks in this mission. The assumption that Pakistanis have misunderstood the bill is equally faulty. Pakistanis have read the bill and understood your intent to micromanage Pakistan, to curtail Pakistan’s nuclear expansion program and to direct the war against extremism in Pakistan from White House.
What follows below is an understanding of the bill which needs to be amended if relations between US and patriotic Pakistanis have to be established. Your assertion that if we have issues with the bill we don’t need to take the money is ‘spot on’; patriotic Pakistanis have rejected your mere $1.5 billion. We will not negotiate on our country’s sovereignty and defence. And these are not mere slogans. They are based on facts which we read out of your conditionalities which do exist. And here are the facts Secretary Clinton:
1. The most controversial clause in the bill pertains to giving US ‘direct access to Pakistani nationals associated with such networks’. The explanation given in the note is equally unacceptable because it wants ‘cooperative efforts’ to combat proliferation to continue. This cooperation mentioned is intrusive since it demands ‘direct access’. Secretary Clinton, we have already handled our proliferators and believe in non proliferation. This we consider a breach of our sovereignty.
2. The reference to Pakistan military and intelligence agencies being involved in giving support to terrorists in the past is equally offensive. This is a clause which enables the Indian lobby to target Pakistan and hold it responsible for all future terrorist acts in the region.
3. The other issue pertains to the fact that President Obama’s regional security strategy will include working with ‘relevant governments and organizations in the region and elsewhere.’ The strategy which could include RAW and Mossad would be imposed on Pakistan for US national interest not Pakistan. And as such we cannot give the authority of making Pakistan’s security strategy to a US President.
4. There are references to expansion of Container Security Initiative at various Pakistani ports which we consider a security hazard.
5. The term sanctuary for terrorism implies that Pakistan is a failed state as is included in intelligence reforms and Terrorism Prevention Act 2004.
6. Bill allows ‘irregular forces to be used for US combat operations in Pakistan’ as stated in the Ronald Reagan Act 2005. This in effect gives legal cover to the Dynocores and Blackwaters which we Pakistanis have major issues with and consider a threat to our security.
7. The bill micromanages Pakistan’s important federal government agencies from education, madrassah’s to trade, to judiciary, to natural resources. All aid given will be to NGOs and if more than $100,000 is given those NGO files will become classified. As such Pakistan will not have access to such operations. This we consider an attempt by US to create its own financial political power bases for future.
8. Approximately $860 million of the aid will go back to US in the form of administrative expenses etc. This truly reflects badly on the actual impact on an average Pakistani’s life.
Here were some of the issues with the bill. Now let’s examine what aggravates Pakistani sensitivities with regards to current US policies. And why you are not welcome in Pakistan by patriotic Pakistanis. This might help you understand why over 80% of Pakistanis have issues with your policies as per certain reliable surveys.
1. Firstly, the US stance in the war against extremism is biased towards protecting Indian and Afghan interests. The TTP and Baloch terrorists have been using these two countries and their resources as bases for their operations inside Pakistan as is proven by Pak military evidence. Whilst you consider Pakistan to be sovereign our aid is linked to these two countries which we find distasteful.
2. Whilst Pakistan’s nuclear program is an issue for US, the Indian nuclear program (civil nuclear technology agreement) is being allowed to expand without any blockades.
3. Whilst you have personally complemented Pak military efforts in your recent visit, at the same time there are conditionalities in giving aid to Pakistan to strengthen its military against terrorists. Certainly these terrorists are linked to India and as such conditionalities are one sided. Moreover, if Pakistan military is being complemented why can’t it be trusted with drone technology? Additionally US policy wishes to strengthen Pakistan’s parliament and yet it ignores the resolution passed by Pakistani parliament against drone attacks.
4. Whilst Pakistan is a frontline state which has paid dearly in terms of men lost in battle with terrorists, US considers India and Pakistan to be equals. Where is the advantage Pakistan should get for cooperating on terrorism? $1.5 billion is a joke compared to the billions spent in Afghanistan and Iraq, even in Turkey and Egypt. As well as the fact that no where with other allies has US imposed intrusive conditionalities.
5. Whilst Pakistan is blamed for terrorist sanctuaries how many infiltrators coming from India and Afghanistan specifically have you managed to stop?
6. The commitment for ROZs looks like its dithering. Where is the actual support for the tribals who have suffered the most in the war being fought to destabilize Pakistan?
7. What effort has the US played in cutting drug money which is destabilizing Pakistan and funding terrorism considering its source of entry is US backed Afghan territory. UN report confirms that after US entry into Afghanistan opium production has increased manifold. This is impacting Pakistan’s security since it’s ready financing for terrorism inside Pakistan.
If you wish to improve Pak-US bilateral, a more productive approach would have been to not justify the bill on arrival but rather to give an open ear to the criticisms with a commitment to amending it. Since there have been no such commitments it seems fruitless to meet with you. This is even more disturbing considering that you have been given plenty of evidence of Pakistani uproar on the bill before your arrival. It’s a pity that the bill was executed minus real Pakistani input. This has no doubt created a diplomatic fiasco for the US. Instead of underestimating the fiasco or considering it a result of Pakistani lack of comprehension, it would have been better to deal with it head on: amending the bill being the only viable option.
Pakistan might have a government which is beholden to you for its future longevity, but there are patriotic Pakistanis who will defend the soil before accepting your policies of creating a US fiefdom in Pakistan. As a young parliamentarian, I would only welcome you to Pakistan once we have evidence of your shift in policy so that Pakistan is dealt with as a sovereign country.