Aid with the lash incenses Pakistan

David Ignatius; 10/10/09

It’s a classic example of the law of unintended consequences: Congress triples its assistance to Pakistan as part of a deepening strategic relationship. But members of Congress, always eager to tell other countries what to do, insert conditions that Pakistanis find insulting. As a result, rather than welcoming American aid and friendship, Pakistanis are indignant at US meddling. When I was in Islamabad a week ago, the Pakistani press was dripping with anti-American outrage. And this week, the Pakistani military and parliament were both protesting US interference. All this in response to legislation that was meant to symbolise US support for Islamabad’s growing firmness in fighting al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Strangely, this uproar seems to have taken the Obama administration by surprise, with senior officials initially denouncing as inaccurate a story in The New York Times this week that reported Pakistani anger and opposition to the bill. Richard Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, should have seen this one coming.