Another reminder that Pakistan belongs to Military, Inc.

August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

On July 12, the United States announced that it would withhold US$800 million from Pakistan’s aid budget. This was intended to be a Stern Warning to denote that Washington Means Business when it says that it wants the Pakistani Army to do its complete and total bidding. (After all, what did the Army think all of those billions were for?) The truth is that these funds have only been suspended and not canceled, and we can expect that the aid will resume its flow once the Army and the U.S. come to a new agreement on drone strikes, U.S. covert operations and movement of CIA assets within Pakistan, and of course on targeting those factions of the Pakistani Taliban that the U.S. deems a threat. But what has been telling in this minor kerfuffle is the response of the Army establishment (via the statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations agency):

“In line with the position taken in the Pakistan-U.S. strategic dialogue in March 2010, it is being recommended to the government that the U.S. funds meant for military assistance to Army be diverted towards economic aid to Pakistan.”

This is not, of course, a grand gesture on the part of the Army that acknowledges the tremendous drain of resources that the Army places on Pakistani society – resources that would be far better used (even in a strictly neoliberal economic sense, in terms of return on investment) in areas like education, health, and infrastructure. In fact, this is the latest strategy being employed by the Army, which continues to use the elected PPP-led government as a vehicle for advancing its own interests but using the cover of electoral democracy to disguise its actions. What this means is that the PPP government is now very publicly hand-in-glove with the Army, and will dutifully transfer the foreign aid being given to them for non-military purposes over to the Army. This strategy also means that the Army brass has also discerned rather shrewdly the game afoot in Washington. As lawmakers in the U.S. become increasingly hostile to Pakistan, and increasingly start using Pakistan as the scapegoat for failed U.S. foreign policy in the region, calls to suspend military aid to Pakistan will become stronger and stronger. So the Army is simply staying ahead of the rising tide. True, it’s short-term thinking, but that seems counter-productive and illogical only if you don’t assume that ALL the Army cares about it is its own very narrow institutional (and frankly, even very personal individual) interests.

Meanwhile, the Army’s statement also had this to say:

“[The Corps Commanders] reiterated the resolve to fight the menace of terrorism in our own national interest using our own resources.”

Hey, generals, here’s a message for you: those are not YOUR resources. They are the resources of the people of Pakistan, and they rightfully belong to the people of Pakistan. You have no right to them. If you want to play war games, go get your own toys.



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