Devil's confession

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has confirmed what India has been saying for a long time. Pakistan has been misusing American military aid to beef up its military muscle vis-a-vis India. Musharraf has said that military aid the US gave Pakistan for the war against terror was used during his tenure to build the country’s military defences against India. Musharraf has since made a U-turn and denied having made such an admission. His disclosure of his country’s misuse of US military aid is nothing new. India has been drawing attention to Pakistan’s misuse of military aid right from the early 1950s when Pakistan began receiving huge amounts of military hardware from the US as part of US-led Cold War military alliances to fight communism. India had warned then that Pakistan would use the weapons against India. And indeed it did in the 1965 India-Pakistan war. In fact, Pakistan’s military adventurism in 1965 and the decades thereafter as well as its policy of fuelling an armed insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir by arming militants have often been attributed to US supply of military aid to Pakistan.

Pakistan’s misuse of American military aid assumes importance in the context of the recent enunciation of the Af-Pak strategy by the Barack Obama administration. Under this strategy, the US has undertaken to provide Pakistan with $1.5 billion per year over the next five years to build civilian infrastructure. This is besides the military aid which runs into billions of dollars. In return the US expects Pakistan to support whole-heartedly the war on terrorism. The US has said that it will not be giving Pakistan a blank cheque ie the aid is conditional on Islamabad’s full co-operation in the war on terror. The US must understand that Pakistan’s full co-operation in fighting extremism and terrorism cannot happen so long as funds meant for this are being used to build its defences against India.

Pakistan’s misuse of aid to bolster its aggressive intentions towards India is not in the interest of the region or the world. Misuse of funds not only deepens India-Pakistan bilateral tension but also, the diversion of aid away from fighting terrorists is undermining the war on terror. US officials say they are taking seriously Musharraf’s brazen admission regarding the misuse of military aid. What India will be keen to know is what Washington is going to do about it.

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