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White House May Push to Preserve Pakistan Aid

JACKI LYDEN, host:

As we mentioned, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today the United States is reviewing financial aid to Pakistan including all assistance programs. At the same time, she stressed that the situation is complicated.

Secretary CONDOLEEZZA RICE (U.S. Department of State): The president has an obligation to protect the United States, to protect Americans. That means that we have to be very cognizant of the counter-terrorism operations that we are involved in. We have to be very cognizant of the fact that some of the assistance that has been going to Pakistan is directly related to the counter-terrorism mission.

LYDEN: To find out more about U.S.'s assistance to Pakistan and what leverage it might give the Bush administration, we've called on Steve Coll. He's the author of "Ghost Wars," a book about the CIA in Afghanistan, and he's reported extensively from that country and Pakistan.

Steve Coll, thanks for joining us.

Mr. STEVE COLL (Author, "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001"): My pleasure, Jacki.

LYDEN: How much does U.S. financial aid helped General Musharraf as he fights the Taliban and what seems to be a growing insurgency in Pakistan?

Mr. COLL: Well, it's been an important source of support for the Pakistan Army since September 11th. In total, United States has provided about $10 billion, with a B, in overt funding to Pakistan since 9/11 and probably another 5 billion or so in undeclared covert money.

A great majority of that has gone, either, directly to the army as compensation for its joint operations against Taliban and al-Qaida elements in Western Pakistan or as direct economic support to the Pakistan treasury which is effectively controlled by the army. So it's been a substantial infusion of hard currency.

LYDEN: Secretary of State Rice has been quite forceful this weekend. Yesterday she said the state of emergency was highly regrettable. But a Pentagon spokesman said that Musharraf's declaration doesn't impact U.S.-military support for Pakistan. What about the Pentagon? What do you surmise the thinking is there?

Mr. COLL: Well, I think, I hear Secretary Rice today setting up the administration's argument with Congress about what to do over Pakistan military aid in the aftermath of this essentially second coup by Musharraf, and I think she's signaling that the administration is going to argue for a continuation of the bulk of U.S. aid to Pakistan despite Musharraf's defiance of the stated U.S. wish that he not impose emergency rule and that he'd proceed quickly to election. So what I think the administration is already trying to do is to engage Congress in an argument that most or at least that portion of the aid which directly supports the Pakistan Army's counterinsurgency operations should continue.

LYDEN: Steve, is there any other financial leverage the United States have here other than military spending?

Mr. COLL: Well, it provides economic support for the Pakistan government and it provides support through the IMF and the World Bank for multilateral lending and direct grants to Pakistan.

I think though most of America's leverage is in its relationship with the Pakistan Army and with the technology and cash that it provides to make that army stronger, again, both in its counterinsurgency operations, but also, in the army's more serious concerns about strengthening itself against India.

LYDEN: Steve Coll is the president of the New America Foundation.

Thanks very much for joining us.

Mr. COLL: My pleasure, Jacki. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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