Just days after US President Donald Trump harshly criticized Pakistan, it has been revealed that America will be cutting almost all security aid to Pakistan.
Trump has alleged that Pakistan is not doing enough to deal with terror groups in its soil. The aid amounts to around $900 million.
Pakistan was born out of the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947. Over the decades since, the country has faced both domestic political upheavals and regional confrontations.
US has strived to be on friendly terms with both India and Pakistan, Washington has long considered Islamabad to be a more valuable ally. During the Cold War, Pakistan became a key friend to the US in South Asia. Pakistan's then Prime Minister, Huseyn Suhravardie in 1956 gave the United States the permission to lease the Peshawar Air Station (PAS) to be used for intelligence gathering of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles.
However, the relationship between Pakistan and the United States has been tested through the decades. One of the reasons for the relationship to have soured at times is in part due to Pakistan’s growing friendship with Russia and China. In 2013, Pakistan and China announced a series of projects to improve the infrastructure of Pakistan called the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is valued at $62 billion. Another vital reason the relationship has dipped is due to the fact US has repeatedly called out Pakistan’s alleged involvement with various terrorist activities.
The burgeoning friendship between the United States and India has also soured the comfortable equation between US and Islamabad.
One of the lowest periods in the Pakistan-US relationship was in 2011. In May of that year, US forces conducted a raid in Pakistan to kill the architect of 9/11, Osama Bin Laden who had been hiding in that country. The Pakistani government was only notified of the raid after it had been conducted.
The amount of aid given by the US to Pakistan has sharply fallen over the year. In 2016, it was reported that aid to Pakistan would be less than one billion dollars. Pakistan was once the third largest recipient of civilian and military from America. In 2011, the amount of foreign assistance provided by the US to Pakistan was $3.5 billion. The United States had not appropriated less than $1 billion to Pakistan since at least 2007. Experts noted that the reduction in foreign aid was partly due to budget cuts and partly due to shifting priorities within the US.
Just days after US President Donald Trump harshly criticized Pakistan, it has been revealed that America will be cutting almost all security aid to Pakistan. In his first Tweet, the President wrote, “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” He added: "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
The US State Department has stated that it has suspended the security aid, but it has also revealed that this decision was reversible. “The suspension is not a permanent cut-off at this time. Security assistance funding impending deliveries will be frozen, but not cancelled, as we continue to hope Pakistan will take the decisive action against terrorist and militant groups that we seek. We do not intend to reprogram any funds at this time,” a State Department official said. This means that these funds could be available to Pakistan at a future date.
The Pentagon and the State Department officials left the door open for reconciliation with Islamabad. “Pakistan remains an important country in the region and in the world, and has historically been a vital partner for the U.S….The United States acknowledges and appreciates Pakistan’s successful efforts to combat militants that threaten the Pakistani state, such as the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaida, and ISIS. And Pakistan has sacrificed a significant amount, including tens of thousands of military and security officials, as well as civilians killed in the fight against terrorism over the last couple of years,” a State Department official said.
At the core of the issue are allegations by the US and other nations that Pakistan allows the Haqqani network to operate freely in the region. This group has ties to the Taliban. Nations have also accused Pakistan for providing a safe harbor for Taliban forces. Pakistan has forcefully denied these allegations in the past. Recently Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told Pakistan's Geo TV: "We have already told the US that we will not do more, so Trump's 'no more' does not hold any importance. Pakistan is ready to publicly provide every detail of the US aid that it has received."
Our assessment is that prima facie the suspension of security aid to Pakistan will most likely result in the deterioration of ties between Pakistan and the USA. However, it remains to be seen if the compulsions of real politik, especially the support the US gets from Pakistan, would finally reverse any suspension of the aid. Perhaps the threat is more of a rhetoric aimed at building some consensus in the fight against terror.