The Collegian
Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Political Faceoff: Be Careful!

Richmond College '09

I am concerned about the new Pakistani government and its relations to the United States. The stability of this new government is questionable because of the new President Zardari's reputation among the Pakistanis for corruption. Furthermore, any suspension is justified by the fact that Zardari's government is different from Musharraf's.

Between Mr. Zardari's reputation and the stability of Pakistan and the region, as well as changing military relations between the sovereignties of the United States and Pakistan, I would be in favor of temporarily withholding any economic or agricultural federal aid to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its new government.

In a Herald-Tribune article dated Sept. 4, Jane Perlez notes that Zardari is assuming power with what many in Washington consider to be untested governing skills at a time when a tough Taliban insurgency threatens the stability of the region. At that time, it was not clear how much influence and command he held over Pakistan's military and intelligence forces. The widely known fact in Pakistan about Zardari is that he used to receive 10 percent on Pakistani government contracts. Though cases have been brought against him, these facts have not been solidly proven. Time must be allowed to see where Zardari takes Pakistan.

Nonetheless, the majority of Pakistanis believe that he is wildly corrupt and more of a dealer than a leader. This mistrust, coupled with unrest in the western Afghan border regions and protest against Pakistani support of the United States in the War on Terror, puts Zardari into a very delicate situation. We do not know which way he will go in handling the situation and how competently he will handle it. Much is at stake here and my feeling is that Zardari must prove himself in order to receive U.S. aid, after which, should he meet expectations -- including stabilization within Pakistani's borders and competent control of the government and its institutions -- aid will resume.

Furthermore, we are not sure about the future of Pakistani-United States relations after the reported shooting down of a U.S. drone by Pakistani military forces. In addition to the drone being fired upon, U.S. helicopters have been fired upon in two separate occasions while passing into Pakistani airspace on the Afghan border, forcing them to leave in both incidents. It's ironic enough that American military technology, in the hands of Pakistani military forces, has fired upon American operated American military hardware. Keeping that in mind, the United States should all the more reason be careful how we deal with our money currently.

Also, in defense of a suspension of aid, one should note the fact that we are dealing with a different government than Musharaff's. Musharraf was practically a military dictator, whereas Zardari is a democratically elected president. Making this distinction has had an impact on international relations -- because one of the parties has changed, the promise or contract may be re-evaluated.

Hence, the delicate situation with Pakistan must be dealt with in a delicate fashion. I am not advocating for complete withdrawal of diplomatic recognition on behalf of the United States. I simply believe the Bush Administration jumped and agreed to support the new regime and new government in Pakistan way too soon without evaluating the situation. Now the United States is in a hairy situation with a long-time ally that has not only a change in government, but also a change in certain policies. The federal government must give the new Pakistani government time to stick to its word with the United States. Be careful!

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