Only when Pakistan is ruthlessly and relentlessly democratized will the United States begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan and India will repose secure from Pakistani wars and terrorism. This is why the US Kerry-Luger Bill, which grants $7.5 billion to Pakistan over five years (jeopardous treasure if it flows into the country without oversight), should be seen (although its authors may not visualize it in that light) as taking the first step to strenuously enforce democracy in Pakistan. President Barack Obama would be smart and wise to link this step (for both domestic and international consumption) to the democratization processes underway in two other Islamic states, namely Iraq and Afghanistan, although those were commenced (again very wisely) by the previous George W.Bush administration.

Indeed, even Pakistan’s reversal from military rule under Parvez Musharraf was commissioned by Obama’s predecessor. But this was not until after Musharraf had managed the last general elections so that the verdict resulted in a coalition government that, naturally being weak, he hoped to control and thus secure his position as president and keep intact the game-changing powers of the military and intelligence establishments. Pakistan’s democracy, although reborn, remained at the collective small mercies of Musharraf and the military and intelligence establishments, which the Bush administration could not alienate and indeed appeased with vast unaudited sums (some dollar seven billion) to keep the war against the Al-Qaeda and Taliban in FATA from collapsing to a complete farce.

So not only did Obama inherit a hopeless long war in Af-Pak, he has also been faced with resurgent Pakistani military and intelligence establishments that have taken cover of a nominal democracy in Pakistan to return to their old perfidious ways. (A restored apparently independent Pakistani judiciary gilds this perfidy further.) This is where the Kerry-Luger Bill can -- or should, meticulously administered -- make a difference, particularly the provision that requires the US secretary of state to regularly assess the "extent to which the Government of Pakistan exercises effective civilian control of the military, including a description of the extent to which civilian executive leaders and parliament exercise oversight and approval of military budgets, the chain of command, the process of promotion for senior military leaders, civilian involvement in strategic guidance and planning, and military involvement in civil administration".

Unsurprisingly, the Pakistani military and intelligence establishments have taken virulent opposition to this provision, dispatching the foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, to Washington to argue against it (but so far failing), as violating Pakistan’s sovereignty, and seeking to envenom public and media opinions against the huge auditing infrastructure that the US is erecting in Pakistan, which includes dramatically expanding embassy and consular staff and providing private security for them. The United States obviously is failing to hard-sell the Kerry-Luger Bill directly to Pakistanis over the heads of pro-military political and government leaders and the military and intelligence establishments as strictly and solely calculated to put Pakistan’s democracy on sound foundations. This hard-sell must commence immediately and the Pakistani mass media would be a good starting point. (The US did manage the Indo-US nuclear deal hard sell in far more sceptical and widespread India so Pakistan should not present a problem, although, to be sure, anti-Americanism runs deeper in Pakistan than it does in India. But the hard-sell should nevertheless be tried.)

But as said before, the Kerry-Luger Bill must represent the first step. As argued by this writer in a previous commentary ("Denuke Pakistan," 10 August 2009), Pakistan should be gently but firmly pushed to downsize its military to a tenth or eighth of its present strength, weaned off all but counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency weapons and systems, denuked and concurrently brought under an US-Western nuclear umbrella, and guaranteed the big five powers’ protection against perceived Indian threats.

But these perceived Indian threats are bogus, for the record, and indeed advertise the compelling necessity to shore up, stabilize and sustain the Pakistani democratic leadership and to drastically curtail military influence and heft. It is established history that Pakistan’s military dictatorships/ leaderships provoked the 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars against India. Pakistani terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir was planned and programmed by another dictator, Zia-ul-Haq, who showed the advantages of a low-intensity war ("bleeding India with a thousand cuts") compared to full-scale hostilities. Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s 1947-48 war in Jammu and Kashmir against India might seem an exception to this hostilities-by-dictators’ rule, but it is not, if you consider he was an unelected governor-general of a dominion (his hatred for India is a given), sworn to uphold essentially a makeshift constitution that was in fact the colonially- and feudally-oriented Government of India Act, 1935, and Pakistan was not a democracy until it gave itself the 1973 constitution, a full twenty-six years after independence. Indeed, Pakistan broke up to give way to Bangladesh because the military and the military-leaning, power-hungry Z.A.Bhutto did not honour the verdict of the 1970 first general election.

The point is, true democracies (where the military is firmly and visibly under civilian control, the direction the Kerry-Luger Bill wants to propel Pakistan towards) do not make war on one another (the foundational principle of the "Concert of Democracy" concept, a concept that Obama might find well worth embracing), and do not encourage terrorism against other states. In ruthlessly and relentlessly democratizing Pakistan lies the lasting solution to peace in Afghanistan and South Asia and rests ultimate and long-term security for the United States from Islamic terrorism.