The figures going round for aid to Pakistan in the US Congress are high. The Berman bill in the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee moved by its Chairman Howard L. Berman proposes yearly $1.5 billion for five years in non-military aid to Pakistan. It would also authorize $600 million per year in military aid. The condition attached with the proposed authorization is that Pakistan "cooperates in dismantling nuclear supply networks and fighting terrorist groups". But the President could waive those conditions if he considered it "vital" for US national security interests. The bill would prohibit, however, the purchase or up gradation of F-16 fighter jets except $142m for the F-16 deal of 2006. There is a competing bill in the Senate sponsored by the Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry and Richard G. Lugar earlier endorsed by the Obama administration. This bill too imposes restrictions but allows the President to waive the conditions if he considered it "important" to do so in the US national security interests. The difference between "vital" (Berman bill) and "important" (Kerry-Lugar bill) lowers the threshold of the Kerry Lugar bill, but the legislation would not authorize military assistance, F-16s no exception. The administration considers congressional restrictions on the aid would be restrictive and even counterproductive. The Berman bill on the other hand reflects the end of the House Democrats' patience with Pakistan. They are in no mood to give up "oversight", the credibility of Pakistan being low. Supporting the Kerry-Lugar bill during his hearing, Ambassador Holbrooke said, "...the phrase Kerry-Lugar had acquired a talismanic quality in Pakistan press..." He thinks it has come to symbolize the US commitment to "stick around". The scepticism about Pakistan's capacity or willingness to deliver is at its height in the House: they think the present government in Islamabad was too fragile for the task before it. The question frequently asked is: "When is Zardari going?" And often it hides the US nostalgia for Musharraf, because with reference to it they do not see a constitutional change of regime in Pakistan. It is now clear in Washington that Pakistan must deal with the Taliban not by negotiating with them in Swat but with force. There is no patience left in Washington for the so-called Taliban; they must be finished. That is the US thinking today on the dilemma the GOP faces, namely, using the army to kill its own people for a cause the rank and file are not quite clear about. The aid to Pakistan bills in the US House and the Senate are thus likely to drag on through different stages while the result of the military action in Swat is awaited. Into its fourth week, the operation is already dragging rather than moving towards a logical conclusion. Speculation is rife in Washington. Some hawkish Americans say they must do in Pakistan as they did in Iraq: force the government to take strong military action against the Taliban or let the US soldiers do the job. Using the army to kill the Taliban is thus for them a reasonable demand in lieu of the huge sums of money they are going to dole out. They will do anything to achieve their objective, including aerial and drone attacks, even boots on the ground. According to one source, our government gave tacit agreement to this policy. If the Taliban have dispersed in the local residents in the Pashtun areas, too bad if there is collateral damage. They are convinced that a loaded envelop will cover everything. This also explains why they continue to support corrupt leaders. 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 any more. This time round they shall have their pound of flesh before they make any payments. That the US wants to leave Afghanistan is another pressure. This, they believe they cannot do so as long as the Taliban are making trouble there from their bases on the Pakistan side of the border. And Pakistan, they feel, is not doing enough to eliminate/liquidate them. The days ahead are going to be stressful. The situation calls for a statesman in Islamabad; but all we have is a fragile government of ordinary mortals facing widespread insurgency in the country and looking over their shoulder at the army who have a long history of toppling civilian governments. Like the superego in the human psyche, they have many masters. Which master prevails, we shall wait and see.