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Emporium Current Essays

The Brown Amendment to the Pressler Law was passed on October 24, 1995, as a part of
Foreign Assistance Bill by an overwhelming majority with 11 our of 14 nominees at the
Congressional Conference voting in its favour. This article attempts an in-depth analysis
and review of the Amendment, the reasons behind Clinton Administration's support to
Pakistan for a one-titne waiver of the Pressler Amendment despite vociferous opposition,
the general American mindset regarding Pakistan'and finally the ramification of the
Amendment on the balance of power in the region.

Clinton Administration-sponsored Brown Amendment, introduced in August 1995, met a

temporary setback in having been deferred. It was, however, endorsed by the majority as
a result of determined lobbying and resolute support of the Administration. It would be
recalled that Clinton had categorically assured Benazir during her visit that keeping the
"equipment anfl the money" paid by Pakistan was morally incorrect and that a
"resolution" to this issue must be found. Resultantly, incessant efforts were made to push
through the amendment in order to enable the US to transfer military equipment worth
$370 million to Pakistan.

In August 1995, while hectically lobbying for the support of Amendment, Defence
Secretary Perry and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Peter Turnof, in their
communication to the Senators highlighted the following:

A) The Pressler Amendment had become counter-productive to the US non-proliferation

goals* and its trade interests. The constraints on overseas private investment, credits and
trade developments in Pakistan. Moreover, the military and defence ties between two
erstwhile allies were being inhibited as a result of the Pressler Law.

B) The Amendment did not seek to repeal of modify the Pressler Law but intended to
restore US-Pak co-operation in economic and non-military spheres. It also envisaged the
handing over of military equipment sent for repair before
1990, and waiving of storage charges for the undelivered military hardware.

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C) While the US government would be in a better position to engage Pakistan in non-

proliferation effort, the equipment for Pakistan was strategically insignificant and would
not result in the reduction of India's overwhelming conventional military superiority in
the region. The other main characteristics of the Amendment

comprised of the following:

I) It continues prohibition on militia assistance unless the President can certify that
Pakistan does not have a nuclear explosive device. Thus the Pakistan-specific Pressler
Law has not been repealed.

II) Does not set aside sanctions required under any legislation concerning the transfer of
ballistic missiles or ballistic missiles technology.

In) Envisages economic assistance which would primarily benefit the US

businessmen including the availability and guarantees for US business in Pakistan along
with trade and development assistance.

IV) Allows limited assistance in the field of international narcotics, anti-terrorist

control, use of aid for military contacts, education, training and co-operation in

The main apprehensions of the anti-Pakistan lobby are as unden-

1) That the proposed amendment would not only undermine the US nuclear non-
proliferation policy, but also .promote regional instability in South Asia as the denial of
technology •and aid to Pak&fan had slowed down its bomb making potential. •<.

2) The reported sale of M-II missiles by China to Pakistan as per CIA briefing,
entailed the imposition of MTCR sanctions against Pakistan and China.

3) It was also highlighted by Pressler that in recent years, "Pakistan conducted joint
naval operations with the terrorist state of Iran" and that the release of military

• hardware would only cement the strategic ties between the two countries.

4) The argument that US was normally bound to release either "planes or money" as
promised by Clinton was fallacious. The fact is that after the initial down payment of S50
million for the purchase of F-16s in 1989, Pakistan voluntarily kept paying the remaining
S608 million despite the enactment of the Pressler Amendment in 1990. Senator Glenn
contended: "It was like buying a lottery that did not come through. The318

Emporium Current Essays

Pakistanis paid out the $608 million knowing fully well that given their nuclear intention
they would never get the planes under our law."

5) To counter the argument of the retarded economic cooperation between the US

and Pakistan due to the Pressler Amendment, it was maintained that the US had exported
hundreds of millions of dollars in defence goods to Pakistan since 1990 despite the
Amendment. The US Commerce Department approved S96 million in 1994, about triple
the amount approved in each of the three previous years. The afore-mentioned
explanations depict the fact that the Brown Amendment has made no strategic difference
to Pakistan's defence capability but has only bolstered the sagging image of BB's
government. It has sparked off an unrestrained euphoria by the government and
exaggerated reaction by the state-controlled electronic and print media showering
unnecessary praise on the PM, while the FO remains blissfully ignorant as to what
constitutes the much-trumpeted Brown Amendment.

The pertinent question is the US interest in supporting Pakistan despite Indian

apprehensions and misgivings, and criticism at home. The apparent tilt its mainly to fulfil
US short and longterm strategic goals which can be listed as under:

A) US ambassador and increasing fear of Islamic fundamentalism necessitated

the support of the Benazir government which projects itself as a "moderate Islamic front-
line state against Islamic extremism". The obvious US policy is the containment of the
"rouge states" Iran and Iraq. The US also considers Pakistan as an important ally for
safeguarding its interests n the Gulf, and as a conduit for influencing Central Asian

B) The US interest to suck Pakistan into its orbit also stems from its unfinished nuclear
agenda which it feels that Benazir can fulfil. Having frozen Pakistan's nuclear
programme in 1989 and having approved the seismic station in Chakwal for non-intrusive
inspection of Pakistan, Iran and China's nuclear programmes, the Benazir government is
the best bet to barter away the country's interests.

C) • The US feels that the Benazir government would also be

receptive to the recognition of Israel and the signing of NPT eventually, which is another
major US objective. Significantly, the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs is on
record having said that Pakistan had made some progress towards recognising Israel.

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D) Conscious of the fact that Pakistan was passing through a downward internal
instability for more than two years due to the ethno-sectarian conflict and deep
polarisation, the US sees a moral obligation to strengthen democracy in Pakistan. It is felt
that the supply of weaponry would provide an impetus to bolster BB's drooping image
and promote her standing vis-a-vis the army in Pakistan. The US is desirous to have a
safe bulwark against "Islamic fundamentalism and extremism."

The supply of S368 million worth material to Pakistan including P-3G Orion Maritime
reconnaissance aircraft, 28 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, AIM 9L Sidewinder air-to-air
missiles (360), parts for F-16s and Cobra helicopters, etc,, has definitely triggered an
arms race in the Subcontinent, despite Clinton's assurance to the then Indian premier Rao
(August 1995). It would breed instability in the region by fuelling the prevalent tension
between the two countries.
It may be highlighted that the military equipment committed to Pakistan .is of 1970
vintage, which is outdated and obsolete. Presently India is fully equipped with Prithvi
missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Thus the release of a fraction of held-up
stores to Pakistan is not likely to affect India's quantitative and qualitative advantage. It
may even lead Pakistan to a dangerous complacency where India's continuous induction
of technologically sophisticated weapons into its system through Russia and Israel may
be overlooked. Nevertheless, the objective is not to decry the minimal pluses of the
Brown Amendment. It has certainly opened a new leaf in US-Pak relations and has been
successful in blunting the Pressler Amendment and removing a major irritant in US-Pak
relations. It has been a moral victory for Pakistan's principled stand and has opened new
vistas, as a result of which both the governments can cooperate in combating terrorism,
fomenting trade and investment relations and increased military contacts. It is a
diplomatic victory in the sense that Pakistan was successful in appealing to US public
opinion that it was morally wrong to withhold the equipment for which Pakistani
taxpayer had been charged. However, the euphoria witnessed in the Press is misplaced
and uncalled-for as the negligible achievement through the Brown Amendment fades into
insignificance by the fact that Pakistan is blindly following a one-dimensional foreign
policy at the cost of its national and regional interest.