By Roxana Tiron - 07/31/10 01:48 PM EDT
Two leading senators on foreign affairs are calling for creation of an enterprise fund to boost Pakistan’s private sector.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) and ranking member Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) have introduced legislation to create the Pakistan-American enterprise fund with monies from an aid package approved by Congress last year.
“Pakistan’s private sector suffers from a lack of capital, which has a negative impact on the daily lives of Pakistani people,” Kerry said in a statement. “The United States can help the Pakistani private sector provide jobs, opportunity, and hope to Pakistanis using creative tools such as this enterprise fund."
Lugar stressed that indigenous job creation will “empower the people of Pakistan to reject radical voices” and said the fund will allow more businesses there to open and expand.
“The failed attack that occurred on May 1, 2010, in Times Square re-enforces the need for our governments to work together to neutralize the imminent threats posed by terrorists waiting to strike, while simultaneously preventing the cancer of extremism from spreading and corrupting local communities in both our countries,” Lugar said.
The recent posting by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks of tens of thousands of classified U.S. military documents underscored long-standing suspicions that Pakistan’s intelligence service has been colluding with the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents — even while taking billions in U.S. aid. While condemning the leak, the White House said the documents contained no new information and stressed it would change nothing regarding President Obama’s war strategy or the U.S. relationship with Pakistan.
Last Tuesday, the House soundly rejected a bill sponsored by Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) to remove all U.S. troops from Pakistan.
The Kerry-Lugar bill would authorize Obama to establish the fund and use the resources to provide direct financial capital and technical assistance to commercially viable small- and medium-sized businesses in Pakistan.
It also would authorize the president to appoint a board of directors, comprised of four U.S. private citizens and three Pakistani private citizens; the positions would be unpaid.
The fund, to be based in Pakistan, would be dissolved no later than the end of 2020 with any remaining monies returned to the U.S. Treasury to help reduce the national debt.
It would be modeled after post-Cold War funds set up by the U.S. 20 years ago to redevelop Eastern Europe.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Congress authorized nearly $1.2 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development to establish 10 new enterprise funds throughout Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. According to Kerry and Lugar, those funds created or preserved more than 260,000 jobs and provided $74 million in technical assistance to strengthen the private sector, and are expected to recoup 137 percent of the original investment, according to Kerry and Lugar.