A senior fellow at the Washington-based Council for Foreign Relations, who is currently visiting Pakistan, has discounted the impression that the US has unofficially imposed restrictions on the disbursement of aid to Pakistan as a prelude to putting an outright embargo. He however conceded the situation might be close to it.
“We are in a position closer to what you have described. A ‘pre-embargo embargo’,” Daniel Markey said in response to a question during his meeting with a select group of journalists when he was asked about a growing demand in the US Congress and by the media to curtail economic and military assistance to Pakistan.
Markey was questioned on this matter as only $300 million in aid have been disbursed to Pakistan while a big amount under the Coalition Support Fund has been withheld. He however explained at length that disbursements of funds under the Kerry-Lugar bill were slow because the US was evolving a system to replace contractors’ system which is flawed as found by the Congress.
The American scholar who is a researcher on issues pertinent to Pakistan and India, while referring to the US operation against Osama bin Laden said, “It is increasingly difficult to make a case for Pakistan after the Abbotabad operation.” When asked about the role of the American media after the operation, Markey said, “The media wants to simplify stories. To them a country is either a friend or an adversary.”
Markey said that in the coming days Pakistan and the US should carefully consider what steps are needed to take the relationship forward, adding that curtailing cooperation, withdrawal of the transit facility for example, would be a problem.
He said that the Afghanistan war is not very popular in the US but at the same time, the Americans would not like to be defeated in Afghanistan, to ensure a continued cooperation with Pakistan.
He also rejected the idea often touted by the political and military leadership of Pakistan that it is important for its strategic location.
“Pakistan is not strategically important for the US, China and India are. Pakistan needs the US because its economy is not strong.” He lauded the idea that Pakistan should be self-sufficient.
“This might be a worthwhile goal for the long-term but is not possible for Pakistan in the short-term.” Daniel Markey described Pakistan’s policies as an obstacle to the great idea of an Asian integration.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2011.