Nov 9, 2007

Senator Jo Biden: A True Friend of Pakistani People

Washington, DC – Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) called today for a new U.S. approach to Pakistan.

Sen. Biden argued that while Pakistan has a strong moderate majority, if that majority is denied a voice in the system and free and fair elections, it could be forced to make common cause with fundamentalists, as the Shah's opponents did in Iran three decades ago.

“To prevent that nightmare from becoming a reality, I believe we need to do three things. First, deal pro-actively with the current crisis. Second, and for the longer term, move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy that gives the moderate majority a chance to succeed. And third, help create conditions in the region that maximize the chances of success, and minimize the prospects for failure," said Senator Biden.

“To help defuse the current political crisis, we must be far more pro-active, not reactive and make it clear to Pakistan that actions have consequences,” said Sen. Biden. “President Bush’s first reaction was to call on President Musharraf to reverse course. Given the stakes, I thought it was important to actually call him – which is exactly what I did. I also spoke to opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Sen. Biden believes we must beyond this transaction relationship – the exchange of aid for services – to the normal, functional relationship we enjoy with all of our other military allies and friendly nations.

“We’ve got to move from a policy concentrated on one man – President Musharraf – to a policy centered on an entire people, the people of Pakistan,” said Sen. Biden.

Sen. Biden proposes a new U.S. approach to Pakistan rooted in four-parts:

1. The U.S. must triple non-security aid, to $1.5 billion annually for at least a decade. This aid would be unconditioned. It would be the U.S.’s pledge to the Pakistani people. Instead of funding military hardware, it would build schools, clinics, and roads.

2. The U.S. must condition security aid on performance. We should base our security aid on clear results. The U.S. is now spending well over $1 billion annually, and it’s not clear we’re getting our money’s worth.

3. The U.S. must help Pakistan enjoy a “democracy dividend.” The first year of democratic rule should bring an additional $1 billion – above the $1.5 billion non-security aid baseline. Sen. Biden supports tying future non-security aid – again, above the guaranteed baseline – to Pakistan’s progress in developing democratic institutions and meeting good-governance norms.

4. The U.S. must engage the Pakistani people, not just their rulers. This will involve everything from improved public diplomacy and educational exchanges to high impact projects that actually change people’s lives.

“In addition, a “democracy dividend” – additional assistance in the first year after democratic rule is restored – would empower Pakistan’s moderate mainstream.
And it would enable the secular, democratic, civilian political leaders to prove that they—more than the generals or the radical Islamists—can bring real improvement to the lives of their constituents,” said Sen. Biden

Redoubling our efforts in Afghanistan – not just with more troops but with the right kind, and with a reconstruction effort that matches President Bush’s Marshall Plan rhetoric would embolden Pakistan’s government to take a harder line on the Taliban and Al Qaeda,” said Sen. Biden.
“All this talk of war with Iran, however, is totally counter-productive to achieving our ends in Iran – but also in Pakistan. In Iran, it allows President Ahmadinejad to distract the Iranian people from the failures of his leadership and adds a huge security premium to the price of oil, with the proceeds going from our consumers to Iran’s government. And in Pakistan and also Afghanistan, anything that fuels the sense of an American crusade against Islam puts moderates on the defensive and empowers extremists.
“History may describe today’s Pakistan as a repeat of 1979 Iran or 2001 Afghanistan. Or history may write a very different story: that of Pakistan as a stable, democratic, secular Muslim state. Which future unfolds will be strongly influenced—if not determined— by the actions of the United States. I believe that Pakistan can be a bridge between the West and the global Islamic community.

No comments: