The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, generally known as the Kerry-Lugar bill, which President Barack Obama is expected to sign off on soon, has deeply upset the top military leadership in Pakistan, including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani. In a most atypical fashion, the top brass publicly aired its anger after a meeting of the country's 12 corps commanders on Wednesday, issuing a public statement denouncing the bill, and urging the Pakistani government to build a national response to it in parliament.
Given the stringent conditions attached to the bill, Washington policymakers should perhaps not be surprised by the Pakistani military's strong reaction. But could this have been avoided?
On the face of it, the Kerry-Lugar bill should be welcomed in Pakistan. It promises to provide $7.5 billion in economic aid over the next 5 years, in order to assist with the development of the country's schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure. The substantial assistance offered is intended to help Islamabad meet its long-term development needs as well as its counterinsurgency requirements, and recognizes the crucial importance of a stable Pakistan in such a geopolitically sensitive region of the world.