News Analysis |
In recent days, senior US officials and lawmakers have both sent clear messages to Pakistan, urging it to help the United States and the Afghan government defeat the Taliban militants. They also said that the failure to do so would force the United States to reconsider its relationship with Pakistan.
US Senator John McCain’s warning that if Pakistan does not stop supporting the Haqqani network, the United States should change its ‘behaviour’ towards the Pakistani nation. This reflects the changing mood in Washington towards a country once considered a close ally.
They added that if any militants were found inside Pakistan they would be arrested and prosecuted.
According to some Pakistani sources, the terse statement came even during a briefing by top military officials. Mr. McCain and his team were repeatedly informed that Pakistan had severed its links with members of the Haqqani network. They added that if any militants were found inside Pakistan they would be arrested and prosecuted.
Meanwhile, it is not just the United States which talks about forcing Pakistan to change its Afghan policy. In a recent statement, Nato Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, issued a sterner warning, “It is absolutely unacceptable that a country provides sanctuary to terrorist groups which are responsible for terrorist attacks inside another country.”
“It is absolutely unacceptable that a country provides sanctuary to terrorist groups which are responsible for terrorist attacks inside another country.”
Read more: Pak-US relations: Echoing old mantra?
Decline in US security assistance to Pakistan
There has been a 73 per cent decline in US security assistance to Pakistan since 2011, reveal statistics released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
The report, prepared for the US Congress, covers both military and economic assistance given between 2002 and 2015 as well as those earmarked for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
It also shows a 53pc decrease in economic assistance since 2011; when relations between the two countries began to deteriorate after the discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and a US air strike on a Pakistani border post in Salala that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon decided not to pay $300 million in military reimbursements to Islamabad over its alleged reluctance to act against the Haqqani network, a charge Islamabad had immediately rejected.
Security aid fell 73pc from nearly $1.3 billion in 2011 to $343m in 2015. Economic aid had declined from nearly $1.2bn in 2011 to $561m in 2015.
Options for Pakistan
India has developed strategic ties with the US. The signing of Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in 2016 between New Delhi and Washington signaled a major shift in US policy viz-a-viz Pakistan.
The relationship between the United States and Pakistan is becoming increasingly colder for the past several years. In the meanwhile, India has developed strategic ties with the US. The signing of Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in 2016 between New Delhi and Washington signaled a major shift in US policy viz-a-viz Pakistan. The recent visit By PM Modi to Washington further strengthened relations between the two countries.
Historically, Pakistan relied on Washington’s military and economic support which has decreased considerably in recent years. This has put pressure on Pakistan to find alternative venues for financial and military assistance.
The previous Chief of the Army, Gen. Raheel Sharif visited Russia and Russian Chief of military reciprocated this official visit by visiting Pakistan.
Pakistan’s policy makers have not remained aloof to this fact and calls are being made to develop ties with Moscow. The previous Chief of the Army, Gen. Raheel Sharif visited Russia and Russian Chief of military reciprocated this official visit by visiting Pakistan. The two countries have so far not made any major headway in forming close ties, but the door has opened for future cooperation.
Moreover, Pakistan has already had a fraternal relationship with China. CPEC project and Chinese military assistance to Pakistan has helped it to maintain the balance of power in South Asia.
The reduction in US military assistance to Pakistan has driven it to rely on its own military industrial complex to cater to its defense needs. This may prove a blessing in disguise. The weaponry produced in Pakistan might not be at par with that of the US and Russian arms for now, but it will enable Pakistan to stop the outflow of revenue for the purchase of weaponry strengthening the economy and creating job opportunities.
Despite diversifying partnerships, the health of Pak-US ties is important for not only both countries but also the entire region. There is a need to understand the concerns of both the countries if the partnership has to be brought back on track.