| GEO Pakistan|
| President, Army row over KLB persists|
| Updated at: 0807 PST, Wednesday, November 04, 2009|
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari has apparently reconciled to the idea that the Kerry-Lugar Bill (KLB) - now an Act after it was signed by US President Obama - may be defeated in parliament, once it is brought back for a vote.
It is expected that the government will not oppose any resolution against the KLB in parliament. President Zardari is mentally ready for accepting another defeat, it is learnt on good authority.
If that happens soon, it will be another defeat for the beleaguered president who now has the choice to remain in the Presidency as another Rafiq Tarar or Fazal Ilahi, or quit and go on with his life.
The president may have avoided a showdown by accepting defeat on the infamous NRO but his differences with the army’s high command on the KLB are still unresolved. He tried his level best in the last session of the National Assembly to create a majority in support of KLB but failed.
Prime Minister Gilani also announced that he will accept Parliament’s decision on the KLB but when the PML-N and PML-Q decided to table a resolution against KLB in both the houses of Parliament, the session was prorogued.
Some in the government pointed out that the Kerry-Lugar Bill had remained under discussion in the media for many weeks, so why did the army expressed concerns over this controversial bill on October 7.
Detailed investigation by this scribe revealed that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had informed the federal government about their objections to the KLB in early July 2009. The ISI DG wrote a detailed letter to the prime minister and informed him that the bill had objectionable language about Pakistan Army. He also stated that the main target of the KLB was the nuclear programme of Pakistan and the government should not accept any conditionality targeting the nuclear security of Pakistan.
The prime minister sent a copy of the said letter to the president and another to the Pakistani mission in Washington DC through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Pakistani mission in Washington DC gave a detailed response on the objections raised by the ISI DG on August 11, 2009 and assured the government that it will try its best to safeguard national interests.
Next day on August 12, the mission sent an advance copy of the KLB to the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad and the objections raised by the ISI DG were still present in the draft. The army waited for another month. The consolidated text of KLB was sent by the Pakistani mission on September 14, 2009. It repeatedly claimed in its assessments that Ambassador Husain Haqqani had tried his level best to safeguard national interest but not a single objection raised by the ISI DG was removed from the bill till the end of September 2009. The army came out with a press release on the KLB on October 7.
Top US officials have claimed in private conversations with this scribe that Ambassador Haqqani never informed the US Congress or the State Department about the objections of Pakistan Army on the KLB.
On the other hand, Ambassador Haqqani has denied this claim and said that the State Department and the GHQ in Rawalpindi were fully in the picture. He said that COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met Senator John Kerry personally on February 26, 2009 and the Pakistan Army was aware of the thinking in US Congress about the bill.
US officials have also noticed the absence of Ambassador Haqqani during the recent visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Pakistan. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani recently supported Kerry-Lugar Bill through a cabinet decision but after the defeat of NRO, the opposition parties have once again decided to initiate a new debate on KLB in the ongoing session of the National Assembly.