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Ranking Member Howard L. Berman Sends Letter to Secretary of State Clinton Raising Red Flags on US Security Assistance to Pakistan

Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing concerns over ongoing US security assistance to Pakistan.

The three key issues detailed in the letter include:

1) The Administration’s decision to certify under the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, (Kerry-Lugar-Berman, or KLB) that the Government of Pakistan demonstrated a sustained commitment towards combating terrorism. As a result of Mr. Berman’s serious concerns regarding our security assistance to Pakistan, he specifically included the certification requirements in KLB.

2) The failure of the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF) to show results match the stated intentions of the program when it was authorized.

3) A previously undisclosed report of Pakistan allegedly diverting U.S.-refurbished helicopters for missions outside of the country despite statements that such helicopters were desperately needed for greater airlift capability to fight terrorism in Pakistan .

The full text of the letter can be found below.

May 5, 2011


The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520


Dear Secretary Clinton:

I am writing to express my deep and ongoing concerns regarding the impact of U.S. security assistance to Pakistan – concerns that have been exacerbated by the discovery of Osama Bin Laden’s lair in Abbottabad. The United States has provided Pakistan almost $20 billion in civilian and military assistance and military reimbursements since 2001. However, according to recent documents, including the President’s April Afghanistan-Pakistan metrics report, certain elements of the Pakistani defense and intelligence establishments continue to provide direct and indirect support to groups that directly threaten the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s own stability. I would welcome engagement with the Administration to discuss improving relations with Pakistan while also ensuring accountability.

The passage of the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (also known as Kerry-Lugar-Berman, or KLB) in October 2009 complemented the President’s policy to transform the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. As part of this policy, the United States would triple annual nonmilitary aid to support Pakistan’s resurgent democracy and improve the lives of the Pakistani people, while focusing U.S. security assistance on improving Pakistan’s ability to engage in counterinsurgency operations. The KLB legislation made explicit that, while the U.S. and Pakistan should move beyond a transactional relationship to one focused on mutual trust, Congress also expects Pakistan to make progress in combating militancy, including the Taliban insurgency killing American soldiers in Afghanistan.

I recognize the great sacrifice of Pakistani soldiers in the fight against terrorist groups like Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). However, I remain deeply troubled by reports that certain elements in Pakistan have yet to cease support for those fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan, including the Haqqani Group, the Quetta Shura, and the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin group. This ongoing support makes sustainable military progress in Afghanistan virtually impossible, and raises serious questions about the basis for the Administration’s decision to make the certification contained in Section 203 of KLB. As you know, that provision requires the Secretary of State to certify that the Government of Pakistan has demonstrated a sustained commitment to and is making significant efforts towards combating terrorist groups, including the extent to which the Government of Pakistan has made progress in ceasing support to extremist and terrorist groups and preventing terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, from operating in the territory of Pakistan.

My staff has also raised with your staff the alleged diversion of several US-refurbished MI-17 helicopters from Pakistan to Sudan for peacekeeping operations. I commend Pakistan’s active participation in UN peacekeeping missions, but Pakistan’s apparent use of these helicopters in Sudan is a blatant violation of the agreement we concluded with Islamabad. The helicopters were intended to improve Pakistan’s ability to conduct counterinsurgency operations and were provided on grounds that Pakistan was desperate for airlift capability to fight terrorists. The diversion of any aircraft – regardless of origin – would be a stark example of Pakistan’s insufficient “political will” to tackle the terrorist problem.

Based on recent briefings, including one from the Departments of Defense and State on April 4, 2011, I also have several specific concerns regarding the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund (PCCF).

1. Lack of strategic objectives

A baseline of success for the PCCF should be Pakistan’s engagement against those groups attacking U.S. forces in Afghanistan, not just on Pakistan’s efforts against the TTP. Recent briefings indicate that DoD and State see a “return on investment” based on quick delivery of key items to the Pakistani military, but there seems to be little evidence that deliveries of equipment under PCCF have been more rapid than under other programs (see point 4 below), or that they have been successful in “getting Pakistan into the fight.” More importantly, there is no clarity on exactly who Pakistan is fighting. If the Departments cannot measure whether PCCF is helping Pakistan conduct operations against those groups killing Americans in Afghanistan, then serious questions must be raised about whether this program is worthy of continued funding.

2. Political will

The President’s March 2011 strategy report bluntly notes that Pakistan continues to avoid conflict with the Haqqani Group and the Quetta Shura. If the fundamental problem is indeed one of political will, I am uncertain how the continued infusion of massive amounts of military assistance will change Pakistan’s tactical behavior.

3. No “hold build” component.

General Petraeus made clear that counterinsurgency (COIN) involves building partner capacity to conduct kinetic operations and to strengthen governance. However, I have no information about how the PCCF, working in combination with long-term development assistance, has strengthened Pakistan’s “hold and build” capabilities. I understand that this is a long-term process (although U.S. security assistance prior to 2009 also focused on building these capacities), and that getting information on progress is difficult, but I have no sense that PCCF involves efforts to promote development or governance.

4. No Accelerated Delivery

PCCF was presented to Congress as an accelerated means to build the capacity of Pakistan’s security forces. Nonetheless, it is apparent from recent briefings that PCCF is no faster than other security assistance programs in terms of facilitating accelerated deliveries of critical equipment, as evidenced by the fact that major equipment purchases are only now arriving in-theater. If metrics on the PCCF have yet to be provided because major PCCF purchases have not arrived in Pakistan, the Departments should address the fundamental procurement system and not suggest the accelerated nature of the program is a sufficient accomplishment to justify the expenditures.

In summary, Pakistan’s continued resistance to cooperate with the United States in counterterrorism bespeaks an overall regression in the relationship. I am eager to revive and expand upon the principles articulated in the KLB legislation: a lasting friendship based on mutual trust and on aligning interests in Afghanistan. I look forward to working with you to facilitate that relationship.

Sincerely,



HOWARD L. BERMAN
Ranking Member


CC: The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense

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