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US sets up special counter-insurgency fund

Discussion in 'Pakistan's Internal Security' started by Neo, May 28, 2009.

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    By Anwar Iqbal
    Wednesday, 27 May, 2009

    WASHINGTON: The Obama administration has established a special $400 million annual fund to help Pakistan fight extremists who Washington fears could threaten the entire region if not curbed.

    The programme, called the Pakistan Counter-insurgency Capabilities Fund, will provide the Pakistani military with equipment and training for counter-insurgency missions.

    The PCCF was added to the war supplemental that the US House of Representatives passed on May 14 and the Senate approved on May 21. Congressman Howard Berman, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, added an additional $700 million for the PCCF in the House’s version of a Pakistan aid bill — which cleared the committee on May 20.

    The Pentagon will carry out the programme with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, complementing existing and planned State Department efforts. The PCCF will allow the commander of the US Central Command to work directly with the Pakistani military to build its counter-insurgency capability.

    ‘We are asking for this unique authority for the unique and urgent circumstances we face in Pakistan,’ US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates recently told a congressional panel while seeking approval for the programme. ‘It is a vital element of President Obama’s new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy.’

    A spokesman for the Pakistan Embassy told Dawn that the PCCF would be particularly useful for ongoing operations in Swat and Fata.

    The congressional approval shows that the Obama administration’s policy of providing additional assistance to the Pakistani military enjoys a bipartisan support.

    While backing the creation of the special fund, Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described the insurgency as ‘one of the most difficult foreign policy challenges we face’.

    But the fund has started a turf war between the Pentagon and the State Department.
    Recent reports in the US media suggest that members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the State Department’s legislative affairs insist that the fund ought to be placed under the auspices of the State Department.

    They point out that counter-insurgency is ‘80 per cent political and only 20 per cent military’ and that’s why all efforts to fight insurgents need to be supervised by civilians.

    While adding additional funds to the PCCF, Congressman Berman also changed the custody of the programme. ‘This provision lays down an important marker that providing security assistance to other countries is a matter of foreign policy and should remain a core responsibility of the Secretary of State,’ Mr Berman said.

    While the Obama administration agrees with the general principle, it has made the PCCF an exception because it feels that the insurgency needs an immediate military response and the best way to deliver such a response is to allow the two militaries to work together.

    The broader package set up under the PCCF will also allow the Pakistani military to receive counter-insurgency training — which several Pakistani officers have resisted.

    An estimated 120 experts from the US Special Forces are already in Pakistan, providing counter-insurgency training to the military and the Frontier Corps.

    US officials, while talking to the media, say that the PCCF will allow Centcom chief Gen David Petraeus to press for additional Pakistani acceptance of US training.

    But to settle the dispute between the Pentagon and the State Department, Congressman David Obey, who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, offered an amendment to the war supplemental that places the PCCF in the hands of the Secretary of Defence for the next fiscal year — after which it would transfer to the Secretary of State.