Fragile Alliance

by Clifford D. May

President Obama today signs the Kerry-Lugar bill providing Pakistan with $1.5 billion annually for the next five years — aid meant to go toward development and to help fight our common enemies, the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

I’ve just returned from Pakistan where Kerry-Lugar was a huge controversy. As I point out in my NRO column this morning, Kerry-Lugar

calls Pakistan “a major non-NATO ally and a valuable partner in the battle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.” 

But it is a conflicted ally and a fragile partnership. As recently as last May, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates voiced the suspicion that within the Pakistani military and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency are those who “play both sides” — who have sympathies for and links with various militant jihadi groups. . . .
Kerry-Lugar would triple aid to Pakistan yet it has been greeted by many in the military, the opposition parties and the media as an insult to Pakistan’s sovereignty and dignity. Why? Because of its “conditionalities” — in large measure because it tries to make sure that money given to Pakistan will be spent only for purposes Americans intend and approve. 

My bottom line is this:

Pakistan is having a historic debate — and it is having it in the midst of a civil war. Pakistan is a front-line state in the global conflict formerly known as the War on Terrorism. I’m persuaded that most Pakistanis are on the right side of the debate, the civil war, and the global conflict. But among history’s lessons is this: When moderate majorities face radical and determined minorities, there is no guaranteeing the outcome.

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