Soon after I wrote my article titled Loaded Envelope (published on May 29), I received two emails from a colleague in Washington. In some measure, the emails added to my knowledge and I share it with my readers in the same hope. But more than that, it reflects the complexity of the politics of foreign aid. Quite often, as in this case, the giver feels he is being magnanimous, altruistic. But the taker on the other hand finds it restrictive and coercive. The emails said: "In looking over your article and thinking about the conditions on US assistance to Pakistan, I thought it might be helpful to share the following with you. Attached is the text of the Berman version of the bill, which I have highlighted to emphasise a couple of things: The conditions on US assistance to Pakistan, highlighted on pages 26-27 of the text, apply only to military assistance, and yes, they require the US president to certify that Pakistan is taking steps to 'combat...terrorist groups' etc before releasing money for Pakistan. Yet all of the assistance for human rights, development, and other such programmes, which is highlighted and stretches from page 9-19, doesn't come under the same conditions. So the US can provide this assistance even without the president's certification that Pakistan is meeting counter-terrorism goals. This would affect the argument in the paragraph where you state, quite strongly: 'Denuded of sophistry, Pakistan's dilemma is this. If they oblige the Americans, they have to kill people the army might not see as enemy. And if they don't the US will stop military, economic and financial aid - or even more desperate measures. In its present frame of mind, the US believes it has been double-crossed by Pakistan in the past but is not prepared to take it anymore. This time round they shall have their pound of flesh before they make any payments'. Yet in Berman's text, only the US military assistance is tied to these restrictions, not the 'soft-side' assistance. So the intent is actually to condition aid that goes directly to Pakistan, and for military measures, NOT all US assistance. Which would certainly affect the argument you make here... I would actually say that yes, the perceived tone from the US is slightly different from that presented in your piece. I would characterise the motivation of the Congress, especially with Democrats like Kerry and Berman in charge, as one of genuinely wanting to prevent providing assistance which would reinforce a corrupt government (rather, they seek to change that and make it more accountable); or to a military which, as you very rightfully note, has a very tainted history in Pakistan in terms of respecting human rights and democratic processes. The talk here has been more of improving and assuring accountability of US foreign assistance, in order to justifying US aid to a government which in the past has not shown significant progress as a result of that aid. There are two sides to this: 1) the US public is not going to warm to providing massive foreign aid unless it can be shown to be in the US interest; and 2) members like Berman and Kerry understand that we will not see change in the security situation in Pakistan without significant investment in development, rule of law, human rights, and other 'soft-side' aid. The question of conditions on military aid, is one in which Republicans are more likely to (and this is an over simplification) think that we can throw money into military assistance to combat the problem, and 'let's worry about the government's human rights record or corruption issues later'. The restrictions on aid in the Berman and Kerry legislation suggest the opposite thinking: Anti-corruption, rule of law, and human rights initiatives come first (and aid for those is therefore unrestricted). But after this, if the government wants to receive military aid, that assistance is tied to certain conditions. Meanwhile, the administration favours the slightly less restrictive conditions in the Kerry (Senate) version of the bill on US assistance to Pakistan. This makes it easier for the president to decide when it is appropriate to grant US military assistance. I hope I'm not throwing a wrench into your article....But it seems that it would be an important distinction in the tone from Washington." Be that as it may, in a country like Pakistan, so chronically dependent on loans and foreign aid, aid is an integral part of the economy and an imperceptible (but corrosive) influence on the collective psyche. Yet, in today's chaos there are some voices, however faint, of reducing dependence on foreign aid. Foreign assistance does not reach the poor, goes the argument, spreads corruption, adds to poverty and kills national pride. Aiming to reduce dependence on foreign aid might restore some of the sense of pride that the borrower must lose as he extends his palm. Begging for succour and national pride cannot go together. The writer is a former ambassador at large