For Pakistan, Kerry-Lugar-Bill has some benefits too

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Washington, June 7 (ANI): So far, we have been hearing about the conditions imposed on Pakistan if it wants to have access to American aid via the Kerry-Lugar Bill, but, a new report published recently has revealed how Islamabad can benefit from it via waivers and avoidance of sanctions.

Last month, it was revealed that a grant of financial aid to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar Bill would start from October 2010.

The US Coordinator for Civil Assistance to Pakistan Robin Raphel said then that the money has not been appropriated as yet.

She said Washington is now working with Islamabad on the modalities of how to spend the money

It was also revealed that the Obama administration would set up a separate auditing office in Islamabad to monitor the financial assistance programmes under the Kerry-Lugar Bill and the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and the Pakistan Counter-Insurgency Capability Fund (PCCF).

This office would report to the Office of Inspector General in Washington. It was announced that two temporary auditors, program analysts and one local person would man the office.

The Bill has four key elements preventing Pakistan's access to aid viz. (a) a halt to security assistance and non-sale of defence equipment until a green signal is obtained from the Secretary of State (b) No aid if Pakistan refuses to cooperate with the US to dismantle terror supplier network (c) Pakistan does not make significant efforts to prevent Al Qaeda and associated groups from launching attacks against the US from its soil and (d) Pakistan security forces subvert political and judicial processes.

According to a report, the Bill, however, has a waiver for almost every condition imposed on Islamabad?

For instance, a waiver can be allowed of the Secretary of State, under the direction of the President, decides that it is important enough to safeguard US security interests. The previous version approved by the US Senate made it mandatory for the Defense Secretary to provide a report on the use of CSF. As far as the PCCF and Foreign Military Funding (FMF) is concerned, the watered down bill does not specify any amount or the percentage for these funds, thus allowing for maximum flexibility.

Another key aspect is the fact that specific references to India and to former top Pakistan nuclear scientist A. Q Khan have been eliminated, while the language to nuclear proliferation has been sufficiently toned down.

Washington will not be allowed direct access to people associated with proliferation networks, but will cooperate with Islamabad to "dismantle" such networks.

There are ten factors under which Pakistan can avoid being sanctioned under the Kerry-Lugar Bill. Some of them are as follows:

Sub-clauses one and three on nuclear proliferation have become redundant, and can only be reactivated or re-applied if a new situation arises, that too only with substantive proof. There is a view that as long as the Pakistan army and the US is allowed to function in an unhindered manner, these sub-clauses will not be activated.

The words of sub clause two of the Bill suggests that Washington won't be too concerned with India or Afghanistan's reactions vis-'-vis terror groups causing trouble.

Pakistan could simply avoid sanctions by bowing to US pressure at critical times, a situation unlikely to arise in the near future, says the report.

The watered down Bill suggests that the White House will be the eventual arbiter in any scenario in which Pakistan is seen to be hurting the US military in Afghanistan.

The Secretary State has the authority to waive off any of these sub-clauses for a reason such as Pakistan supporting Afghanistan i.e. allowing use of drones in North Waziristan and maintaining supply lines to NATO, or preventing Pakistan's nuclear assets from falling into the wrong hands.

Pakistan will always discourage the US administration from stopping aide, citing that past records on this score have almost always ended in failure and been counter-productive.

The powers that be in Washington, according to the report, are also concerned that any aid related condition appearing in legislation, could raise "unpleasant memories" of the 1985 Pressler Amendment, which led to total aid cut-off in 1990. There is a view in certain quarters that Islamabad's sensitivities would have to be considered before any decision on aid suspension is moved.

In summing up, the chairman of the US Foreign Relations Committee and one of the authors of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, Senator John Kerry has said that Pakistan would have present a clear strategy for dealing with extremist groups breeding on its soil in order to keep on receiving aid from America.

This is not the first time that Washington has asked Islamabad to do more against extremists, who are threatening the country's existence. (ANI)

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