Following the resignation of Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf, American officials are increasingly concerned about Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency’s links with militant and terrorist groups, particularly al Qaeda.
Pakistan was the No. 1 recipient in the world of arms aid from the United States in 2006. Since 2001, Pakistan has received over $10 billion in U.S. aid, with over 60 percent going to its military. However, the bulk of military assistance has been directed to weapons and military know-how unrelated to U.S. counterterrorism efforts against the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Yet despite the billions of dollars poured into Pakistan, Pakistan’s security forces have had limited success in countering high-profile al Qaeda terrorists to help America in its fight against terrorism.
Rather, Pakistan has allowed al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents to breed and expand within its borders, only to infiltrate and destabilize U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. Since May, there has been a 40 percent increase in attacks carried out in Afghanistan against coalition forces. The recent bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul and assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai are just the latest
examples of increased terrorist activity and violence.
After Sept. 11, President Bush told the world, “We will not only deal with those who dare attack America, we will deal with those who harbor them and feed them and house them.” Pakistan’s continuing peace deals with militants, however, are not actions a trustworthy and dependable ally would take. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has affirmed Pakistan’s deals with insurgents are making terrorists “free and able to cross the border and create problems” for U.S. troops.
While on an official visit to the U.S. and in response to a strike made in the South Waziristan tribal region killing a senior al Qaeda member, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani denied the ISI’s link with militants, saying, “Basically, Americans are a little impatient.” Yet another official, Pakistan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Sherry Rehman, acknowledged that there are “probably” ISI agents who “act on their own” to support militants.
Interestingly, Pakistan claims to lack resources to effectively fight terrorism, yet the country snubs the U.S. and international communities’ offers to root out terror networks nestled within its border with Afghanistan.
Insurgents from the region where Afghanistan shares a border with Pakistan have been able to easily infiltrate and carry out attacks on Afghans and allied forces. According to the CIA and U.S. military officials, insurgents are training and mobilizing from the border region with little to no interference from Pakistani officials.
It’s time for the U.S. to consider if we are really getting a return for the billions of dollars we have poured into Pakistan. The Senate is considering another $7.5 billion aid package. Policymakers should be asking how this money will be spent.
At a minimum, policymakers should require a thorough accounting that confirms that funds are used for anti-terrorism efforts, institution building, education and infrastructure, particularly in the tribal areas between the Afghan-Pakistan border where al Qaeda and the Taliban exploit some of the world’s poorest populations.
The U.S. has large investments in Afghanistan. The Afghan civilian government’s success is important for our national security, as one day the U.S. hopes to see an Afghanistan free of terrorism and acting as a partner in the larger war against terror.
This, however, may never happen if the U.S. continues to give Pakistan military aid that is unaccounted for and directed by Pakistan to non-counterterrorism efforts. The international community must pressure Pakistan to allow it to weed out the terrorists so that Pakistan can concentrate on economic development and other important security issues.
U.S. policymakers must re-evaluate whether the billions of aid sent to Pakistan in the name of fighting terrorism is actually being used to reduce the terrorist threat or if it is being used to aid our enemies.
Halima Karzai is the associate director of foreign policy and international women’s issues at the Independent Women’s Forum. Delna Sepoy is a junior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum and a senior at Beloit College in Wisconsin.