“Pretend Secrecy” Shields the White House from a Drone Missile Debate

The Huffington Post
Posted: November 5, 2009
By Sanjeev Bery

It is time to set aside the notion that U.S. drone missile attacks in Pakistan are some kind of secret. The pretense of secrecy has saved Obama Administration officials from having to publicly defend the military tactic.

But when Pakistani college students, think tank scholars, and New York Times reporters are all talking about this issue, U.S. officials should stop pretending that there is anything classified about it. Continue reading

The State Department is keeping track…

pakistan-map_0The U.S. State Department is now tracking the number of emails received opposing U.S. drone missile attacks in Pakistan.  What will the final number be?

50?  500?  5000?

After emailing the State Department to oppose drone missile attacks, I received the message below.  You may have as well.  This means that senior State Department officials will eventually get a report on the total emails received.

What will the report say?

If you haven’t already done so, please click here so that senior U.S. officials know that a significant number of people want the U.S. government to stop killing Pakistani civilians:  http://freedomforward.org
Continue reading

US AID guards its turf in Pakistan

Over at Informed Consent, Juan Cole writes:

usaid_logo_sealThe [Kerry-Lugar Pakistan] aid bill is also controversial in Washington, where a US AID official has complained about the plan to funnel it through Pakistani contractors rather than through American ones. The Agency for International Development official maintained that Pakistani organizations cannot be monitored effectively by the US, raising the possibility that the money will be embezzled…

I understand the difficulty of auditing NGOs in dangerous places like the FATA tribal areas. But it seems to me that it must be possible to audit the Pakistani pass-through organizations elsewhere regularly, and that the shell game of Congress giving foreign aid to a country in a way that actually just benefits US corporations and contractors is counter-productive.

The original complaint came in the form of a “sensitive but unclassified” internal memo from US AID Development Economist C. Stuart Callison, Ph.D., criticizing the U.S. State Department’s shifts in the routing of Pakistan aid:

Continue reading

Misreading “Anti-Americanism” in Pakistan

militaryincThe latest news on US-Pakistan relations shouldn’t surprise anyone. According to the Associated Press, former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf used billions of dollars in US military aid for everything but the paymasters’ intended purpose: fighting Taliban militias.

None of this news, however, is likely to generate much Pakistani sympathy for American taxpayers. What American officials refer to as “anti-American sentiment” is actually a deep resentment of U.S. government involvement in internal Pakistani politics. It is worth noting that U.S. funding for Musharraf marked the third time we have supported Pakistani dictatorship in the country’s 60 years of history.

It is precisely this past that has come to haunt both Pakistanis and Americans today. The intersection of dictatorship and dollars has resulted in a Pakistani military that does not answer to the country’s civilian leadership. Every time American taxpayers financed an alliance with a Pakistani military dictator, we also forced Pakistani reformers to take a backseat.

Continue reading

The IMF and the Taliban

imfAmong the many factors at play in the growth of the Pakistani “neo-Taliban” is the story of poverty and a failed government response to basic human needs. With the global recession underway, things have only gotten only worse for those near the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder in Pakistan and elsewhere.

As the World Bank puts it:

“Estimates of the additional number of people trapped in extreme poverty in 2009 as a result of the financial crisis range from 50 to 90 million.”

With that in mind, it can be easy to view this weekend’s IMF/World Bank meetings as good news:  lots of talk of providing money to Pakistan and other developing nations to help during the recession.

Unfortunately, the IMF is talking about providing loans.

That means more long-term debt for the very nations that can least afford to pay it off. To make things worse, many of these loans are likely to come with the kinds of conditions that will further limit social welfare spending.

Continue reading

The anguish of the innocent

AP photo:  Chakwal, Pakistan

Associated Press (AP): Relatives of victims killed by a suicide bomber in a mosque, react in a hospital in Chakwal city in Punjab province, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, April 5, 2009.

Continue reading

With a friend like this, who needs democracy?

A repost of my comment at Sepia Mutiny and Chapati Mystery:

On the intersection of U.S. policy and Pakistani politics, I was particularly surprised to read this link off a Pakistani news twitter feed:

Obama calls Zardari, discusses mutual cooperation
Pakistan News.Net / Friday 27th March, 2009 (ANI)

Islamabad, Mar. 27 : US President Barack Obama telephoned President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday to discuss mutual cooperation and the situation in the South Asian region. Obama and Zardari spoke about the “Friends of Democratic Pakistan” forum initiative, aimed at promoting and strengthening democracy in Pakistan, The Nation reports…

Zardari, who launched the initiative of ‘Friends of Democratic Pakistan’ (FODP) in New York in September 2008, will chair the Friends’ Ministerial meeting being held in Tokyo on April 17. The forum consists of 25 countries and multilateral institutions…

What is the “Friends of Democratic Pakistan” forum, and why is Zardari chairing it?

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.