That doesn’t mean net funding for Pakistan goes down, however — the money can simply be shifted to other Pakistani units. The nuclear-armed country is of such strategic importance that American leaders say it is difficult to withhold funds. In total, Pakistan receives roughly $1 billion in economic aid and $1 billion in military assistance each year.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, who spearheaded the legislation that imposed the human rights requirement on foreign aid, is said to have had trouble getting answers on the execution videos. The senator ‘‘has repeatedly requested information from representatives of the Pakistani government on the status of the promised investigation of this war crime, but so far has received nothing,’’ said his spokesman, David Carle.
Ali Dayan Hasan, head of Human Rights Watch in Pakistan, is not convinced the military even pursued a proper probe.
Pakistan’s civilian government, led by the party of President Asif Ali Zardari, remains far too weak to take the army head on over accountability. At this point, the government is focused on surviving, and it has to tread carefully around the generals.
Analysts said army leaders are reluctant to be more transparent to civilian authorities largely because of concerns about morale amid the fight against militants, who are themselves notorious for ruthless tactics. The Pakistani military says thousands of its soldiers have died in the conflict since 2001. It’s entirely possible soldiers are punished in private for abuses, but to publicize that would, again, undermine morale.
The army also doesn’t necessarily trust the civilian institutions. The military often prefers to hold alleged insurgents indefinitely, even secretly, for fear civilian courts, which rarely convict terrorism suspects, would set them free.
Still, a more assertive judiciary and a more technologically advanced media landscape are bringing signs of change.
In August last year, an anti-terror court sentenced to death a soldier who shot and killed an unarmed youth as he begged for mercy in the southern port city of Karachi. The incident was caught on videotape and repeatedly broadcast by TV stations, triggering enough public anger the military could not ignore it.
In January, a government-appointed commission released a report on the death of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad, who was killed after telling friends he was threatened by the country’s premier intelligence agency, the military-led Inter-Services Intelligence.
The report said it did not have enough evidence to blame the ISI in the killing but that the agency should be more ‘‘law-abiding.’’ The mere issuing of a report was seen by rights advocates as a mini-victory.
The judiciary has also increasingly demanded the army and intelligence agencies account for suspects allegedly held in secret, believed to number in the thousands. Some have even been freed due to the court’s demands, though no one in the security establishment is known to have been punished.
Sustained protests by victims’ relatives helped in pushing for the release of some of the missing, said Hasan.
But so far there isn’t a widespread public outcry for accountability from the military as the fight against Islamic militants continues.
Even liberals ‘‘don’t want too much focus on human rights in a situation like Swat,’’ said Babar Sattar, a legal expert. ‘‘There is that sense that if you put too much focus on those issues it'll make it harder for the army to fight.’’
Associated Press Writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report from Washington, D.C. AP writer Nahal Toosi can be reached at twitter.com/nahaltoosi.