Home US & Americas Americas US suspends economic aid to Pakistan

US suspends economic aid to Pakistan

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News Analysis |

On February 6, 2018 the US House of Representatives joined the Senate to end economic aid to Pakistan through a bill which suggests that this non-military aid to Pakistan should be invested on the development of infrastructure within the US. This legislation becoming a law requires the US to maintain a strategic perspective favoring them as President Trump has already suspended military aid to Pakistan.

The legislation was brought by Congressmen Mark Sanford from South Carolina and Thomas Massie from Kentucky, this will ban the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) from sending American taxpayer money to Pakistan.

Instead, these funds will be redirected to the Highway Trust Fund, the account that pays for road infrastructure in the US, something that President Trump also pledged during his campaign trail.

“The United States should not funnel money to a government that provides military aid and intelligence to terrorists,” Massie said in a statement. “This common-sense bill puts America first by reallocating tax dollars to our roads and bridges at home instead of funneling money overseas.”

2017 witnessed fragile US-Pak relations with the USA asking Pakistan’s to “do more”, rejecting its assertions it could do no more, while, President Trump’s New Year tweet has further deteriorated their bilateral relations. The current debate in Congress on the rationale for continuing US assistance to Pakistan followed a New Year’s Day tweet from President Trump, who accused the country of receiving more than $33 billion in 15 years but giving “nothing but lies and deceit” in return.

The tension between Islamabad and Washington simply obstructs counter-terrorism strategies of both states in the region. These current harsh approaches of the US towards Pakistan is merely to tighten the economic state of affairs of Pakistan.

Four days after the tweet, he suspended US security aid to Pakistan, hoping that it would force Islamabad to support his strategy for defeating the Taliban. According to US defence experts, that total aid-cut falls to $900 million which includes $255 million due to Pakistan for military equipment and training under the Foreign Military Financing Fund and $700 million under the Coalition Support Fund.

The US aspirations behind the cutting economic aid as well as military aid to Pakistan are because it has serious concerns that the aid will be used in Pakistan’s strategic assets.  Secondly, the Indo-US strategic partnership is a contributory factor in disturbing the balance of power of South Asia.

Read more: US suspends Pakistan’s security aid despite years of sacrifices

The US always presents one reason behind the assertive attitude towards Pakistan which is that the country has given safe heavens to terrorists on its soil. They also blame Pakistan for the failure in Afghanistan, a war-torn region. Lack of political leadership and the will to rehabilitate, and to subdue the ever-increasing insurgencies in Afghanistan are the major causes for the problems the country faces. 

It may successfully influence the American congressmen and the Trump administration in chalking out and executing a harmful South Asian strategy. It would not only undermine Pakistan’s national security but also obstruct Washington pursuits of objectives in the region.

Pakistan’s tilt towards China and the rapprochement towards Russia are indigestible efforts for the US. Simultaneously, Pakistan cannot rely only on just the US in the contemporary geopolitical environment where all the regional countries have been realigned in South Asia. The ever growing India and US strategic partnerships are creating circumstances that are compelling Pakistan to seek other strategic partners to counterbalance the regional aspirations of its traditional rival state –India.

Since the beginning of the year 2018, Pakistan has been hearing arrogant statements from the US which indicates that it is just appeasing its strategic partner India. Other states have not welcomed US remarks on Pakistan.

Read more: Trump could freeze $2bn of Pakistan aid over militant havens

In reality, since 2001 the US has needed Pakistan’s cooperation on many fronts to enable its military presence in Afghanistan. Thus it is yet to be seen how this bill to cut of the economic aid to Pakistan unfolds throughout the year of 2018. President Trump isn’t like previous US presidents and what new course his policies would chart out for Pakistan will not go without affirmative responses and consequences.

The US Embassy in Pakistan consists of 7% of the whole diplomatic enclave. Over 1000 Pakistanis and 400 US officials are working there. The justification for the US to have opened such a large compound in Pakistan was given as the aid it distributes to the country and needing the space and personnel to assign this. If the US is cutting back on so much aid – then the government needs to rethink the land and people that they have and for what uses this is being utilized for. 

The shift in the US’s foreign outlook definitely limits its formal influence over Pakistan’s foreign and strategic policy. In a nutshell, the mistrust between Islamabad and Washington is in favour of the anti-Pakistan lobby present at Capitol Hill.

The continuous US carrot-and-stick strategy may not serve its objectives in the region. The American decision makers ought to be aware about its limitations in bullying Islamabad in the prevalent regional and global strategic environment. The US’s diminutive approach towards Pakistan and to contain China by strengthening its partnership with India necessitates Pakistan  to pursue alternative options in its external affairs.

Read more: “We fight for our national interests and principles, not for aid”,…

The shift in the US’s foreign outlook definitely limits its formal influence over Pakistan’s foreign and strategic policy. In a nutshell, the mistrust between Islamabad and Washington is in favour of the anti-Pakistan lobby present at Capitol Hill. It may successfully influence the American congressmen and the Trump administration in chalking out and executing a harmful South Asian strategy.

It would not only undermine Pakistan’s national security but also obstruct Washington pursuits of objectives in the region. Thus, the tension between Islamabad and Washington simply obstructs counter-terrorism strategies of both states in the region. These current harsh approaches of the US towards Pakistan is merely to tighten the economic state of affairs of Pakistan.


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