Why General Kayani is angry

Understanding the Pakistani military establishment’s objections to the Kerry-Lugar conditionalities

If it’s hard to determine the exact cause of the uproar in Pakistan over the Kerry-Lugar Bill, it is because there are many. Simply put, every quarter in Pakistan is using it as a stick to beat its opponents. While all the outrage over being insulted (via Zeitgeist Politics), having sovereignty disrespected and being distrusted by the United States contributes to the heat, dust and entertainment, the most important question is why did the Pakistan Army—and there were reports that the navy and the air force differed from their terrestrial colleagues—publicly throw up its hands in protest?

General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and his senior colleagues cited “serious concern regarding clauses relating to national security” and suggested that the parliament must shape a “national response.” So what were they referring to?

The sticking points most commonly cited in the public debate over the Kerry-Lugar Bill in Pakistan are the ones attached to action against cross-border terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Now, the Pakistan army is certainly concerned about US scrutiny and pressure over these issues, but it is unlikely that these issues by themselves would cause the generals to raise the red flag. They’ve slipped out of this ring in the past, and they can do so in future.

It is more likely that the military establishment made its move because of other conditions in the Bill that seek to alter the civil-military relationship in Pakistan: by increasing development assistance, by conditioning military assistance, among others, on civilian control of the armed forces. The ambit of civilian control extends to matters like promotions of officers to senior ranks. As INI co-blogger Dhruva Jaishankar (in an email) and Pakistani blogger Kalsoom astutely point out (via Changing Up Pakistan), behind General Kayani’s missive lies the military establishment’s refusal to accept a civilian straitjacket.

There are reports in the Pakistani media about some individuals linked to the PPP government and to President Asif Ali Zardari personally played a role in encouraging the US Congress to include such terms. The insinuation is that Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, was among those responsible. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Reining in the rogue military establishment is in the interests of the PPP government, and in most countries, would be considered legitimate.

The corps commanders have clearly drafted their statement carefully. Not only does it register their opposition to accepting aid under the terms of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, it also suggests that it is the parliament—not the Zardari government, which is the executive—that should make the decision.

Neither General Kayani nor the military establishment are hurt politically if Pakistan rejects the Kerry-Lugar assistance. The prevailing schizophrenia among the public over Pakistan’s role in sponsoring international terrorism and rampant anti-Americanism will probably make them more popular. And if the Pakistan economy goes into a tailspin, it will be the Zardari government that takes the rap.

This should signal to the Obama administration that its biggest problem in AfPak is Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex. The message from Washington should be “take it or leave it.”

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7 Responses to Why General Kayani is angry

  1. rishi 9th October 2009 at 02:03 #

    India should be against the bill.

    The aid may not be used directly used for military purposes, but it is almost certain that a portion will be given in the name of humanitarian assistance to LeT, JuD, etc.

    Even if the money is used for purely non-military purposes, it increases the total money available, and thus indirectly increases military expenditure. And we all know where that is targeted.

  2. Anji 9th October 2009 at 04:53 #

    Unlike Rahul, I think India shouldn’t mind the bill. We ought to find a mechanism to counter the threats from them than harp on wishing them to disintegrate.

    On a different note, thought I should backlink this post and another to one of mine own. Didn’t know how!!

  3. Yogesh 11th October 2009 at 21:42 #

    The Pakis gave Senator Kerry a big national award and he has paid them back with this bill!This is a golden opportunity for Pakistan to straighten up and take a new course in history.If this chance is missed,they will be certainly spiralling down to doom.In any case they have been surviving on doles thus far.They have rented out their farm land to Saudi Arabia for farming even when thousands of Pakistanis go hungry each day.This is dole money with conditions – which will help everyone – Pakistan,India and the US of course.The only people who it does not help are senior military officers(who see their power slipping) and the terrorists.

  4. Nagarajan Sivakumar 11th October 2009 at 23:41 #

    Talk about much ado about nothing. None of these “conditionalities” put down by the US can be enforced… these are the same people who can’t quite account for what has happened to the TARP money that was supposed to help just failing US banks.

    Neither can they figure out the 787 Billion $ stimulus package that was passed 9 months back – how much of this has been spent ? And where ?

    We are talking about the Federal Govt of the USA not being able to track down the money that it has “spent” in its own damned territory !

    Kayani and Gang can pretend to bitch and moan about self respect while knowing EXACTLY how to siphon these funds from their so called “leaders” in the civilian Government.

    Does any one even understand how deeply the Paki military jihadist establishment is entrenched in their civil society ? Just how much property and institutional power do their military officers hold ? I think any one who knows Pakistan knows that its a lot.

    On balance, this is an anti-India bill – after the dust has settled Pakistan WILL STILL RECEIVE this money and it will STILL BE USED by the military-jihadi terrorists.

    When the Kerry-Lugar tamasha bill is actually enacted, lets see how many Indians will continue to support this travesty after its effects or precisely its “non-effects” become clear.

  5. Nagarajan Sivakumar 11th October 2009 at 23:47 #

    ACORN Readers,
    You may be interested in reading this news article from McClatchy – the Obama team is all set to pack America’s bags and leave Afghanistan for good.

    In order to do this, Obama and his administration have been falsely misleading the US public of how retreat from Afghanistan would not be dangerous and that a “moderate Taliban” who have a “role” to play in Afghanistan once the US retreats.

    “Moderate Taliban” – Talk about oxymorons.

  6. gupshup 12th October 2009 at 00:21 #

    Its all about money, Zardari will make millions and is happy, Pak army will get nothing but also gets its power shattered and hence unhappy.
    I think, India has nothing to do here other than wishing Pakistanis for a better future.

  7. Zee 16th October 2009 at 00:53 #

    It is indeed a sorrowful understanding that people like Nagarajan say about how Pakistani military spends money on supporting the cause of muhajiddins in such simple words and consider this as anti India while forgetting completely the role of RAW/Indian Army/Political establishment in parts of balochistan/Srilanka/Afghanistan. an expected 60000 thousand agents agressively working in these parts only.

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