Aid to Pakistan could backfire on U.S.

As defense spending accelerates amid heightened patriotism, Americans rarely question where exactly the money goes. Few realize this rapidly absorbed money might resurface in years to come and could return in the form of weapons and resources used against U.S. soldiers.

On Monday, President Bush waived the last sanctions on Pakistan through 2003, looking to revitalize the current U.S. ally with financial aid and supplies. These decisions came despite normally rocky relationships with Pakistan. Before the events of Sept. 11, the United States argued with Pakistan, along with its close rival India, over the testing of nuclear weapons. Pakistan also has a shaky relationship with democracy, further weakened by anti-American sentiment arising from U.S. air strikes against Afghanistan that began on Oct. 7. Now that we are allies, however, Bush is looking to give money and “excess defense articles” to Pakistan, according to Associated Press sources.

Our own history proves this policy could not be more counterproductive for the war effort. During the Afghan war with the communist Soviets, the United States backed a little-known “freedom fighter” named Osama bin Laden. They outfitted him with financial support, training for his troops and military assistance. He learned how to construct a system of deep bunkers and other tactical strategies, from the U.S. government. This
training and all these resources are now being used against the United States. The same situation could easily occur in Pakistan, particularly in light of the numerous pro-Taliban demonstrations and riots.

Another pertinent issue with the sanctions is our relationship with India. As Pakistan and India continue their squabbles, it is important not to alienate India. Doing so would offset the delicate balance in the region even more and will make the highly disputed Kashmir region more serious an issue.

One more little-mentioned fact about the alliance with Pakistan is the $3 billion debt they owe the United States, of which nearly $379 million has been rescheduled. The country is clearly unable to stand on its own as it is, and the U.S. government is throwing all their support behind them simply for access to air bases. Officials announced that aid could range from $300 million to $500 million, and that $100 million has already been committed. When the conflict reaches an end, Pakistan will have to become a financially independent, stable nation. It is unlikely current U.S. policy will bring them any closer to that goal. As proven in Afghanistan, U.S. interference in other nations’ governments breeds contempt, hatred and dependency. In order for a healthy post-war Pakistan to exist, the United States needs to reconsider its approach to the nation.