This past Saturday I attended the Harvard sponsored International Relations Conference “United States-Pakistan Foreign Relations: The Way Forward.” One panel speaker, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, the former Federal Minister of Education and current Information Secretary of the Pakistan Muslim League, spoke about the Kerry-Lugar Bill. His concerns were that reform efforts need to be organically driven, rather than a result of pressure from outside (U.S) influence. Reform measures would be looked at suspiciously if it appears that America is behind them. American motives would cast doubt on the reform process.
It seemed that he thought elements of the Kerry-Lugar bill gave credence to those who would doubt American motives in the region, and Pakistan more specifically. SEC. 302.a(11)(D) “cease all support for extremist and terrorist groups” was one of several lines of the bill which Mr. Iqbal found offensive, since in order to cease an activity one must be engaged in it.
Mr. Mir also spoke at the conference and made several proposals that got the attention of the audience. Most interesting, I found, was the suggestion that the AF-PAK border ought to be secured in a similar fashion as the US-Mexico border. Mr. Mir offered to show those in attendance the porousness of the border. I have contacted him with my interest accepting his invitation and visiting for myself. I am waiting for his reply.