News Analysis |
Last Wednesday, the US Congress ratified a $716.3 billion defense spending bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week and is on its way to the White House to be signed into law by President Trump. The defense bill is extensively concerned with measures needed to block national security threats from countries like China. The bill also caps off the all military aid to Pakistan at a total of $150 million annually, a new historic low as compared to the minimum of $1 billion incurred previously.
This is a significant decrease from the $700 million promised via the Coalition Support Fund last year as remarked by Anish Goel, who served on former President Obama’s National Security Council. The National Defense Authorisation Act-2019 (NDAA-19), has however ignored some key aspects such as demands for military action against Islamist groups such as the Haqqani Network or the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
The bill also appears in the wake of statements made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last Monday. Pompeo cautioned the IMF against a future currency bailout for the Pakistani Rupee; a task imperative for the new government.
NDAA-19 enjoyed overwhelming support from the senate when it was voted in by 87 to 10 votes and is the manifestation of Trump’s new South Asia policy which he unveiled last year in August. The current US President intended to pressure Pakistan to do more against terror groups. During the previous Obama administration, Pakistan received around $1.2 billion in aid per year from the US under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act of 2009.
Most of the bill is set upon tackling China’s military, maritime, cybernetic and economic competition to the United States especially in the Pacific region. China which is the most important regional and global ally of Pakistan has over $60 billion in investments within Pakistan.
The bill bars it from partaking in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), which is the largest international maritime warfare drill citing Beijing’s alarming consolidation of military and economic power as a threat to the world order set up and dominated by the US. Chinese companies such as ZTE, Huawei and Confucian Institutes have been identified to sabotage US national interest both domestically and globally and have been prevented from gaining access to certain telecom equipment for defense and security purposes.
The National Defense Authorisation Act-2019 (NDAA-19), has however ignored some key aspects such as demands for military action against Islamist groups such as the Haqqani Network or the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
In addition to preserving American interests abroad the through various restrictive measures against China the bill also promotes military ties with US allies in the Indo-China region i.e. India, Australia and Japan to counter aggressive Chinese military behavior. The NDAA-2019 contains a clause that “prevents taxpayer dollars from being awarded to the US’ biggest economic competitor [China]”.
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In one move, the US tightens the noose on China and its allies, the latter of which will be hurt most in the process. The bill also appears in the wake of statements made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last Monday. Pompeo cautioned the IMF against a future currency bailout for the Pakistani Rupee; a task imperative for the new government. Pakistan is currently facing a debt crisis and needs to pay off loans under the strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative.