News Analysis |
The United States on Thursday suspended all military aid to Pakistan. US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, in a news briefing, announced that Pakistan will not be given any security assistance until it proves commitment to fight all terrorist groups within its soil. This statement came in the wake of Donald Trump’s tweet, accusing Pakistan of ‘lies and deceit’ and harbouring terrorists on our soil.
The State Department had earlier threatened to cut off the aid; the move was followed by the suspension of 255 million dollars of security assistance from Military Financing Fund, used for assisting and training foreign allies. The cut off is not for all types of aid, humanitarian aid will continue. Funds will be allocated for a specific purpose and they will not be released until the targets are achieved which can be either strategic or other.
The US should acknowledge these steps taken by the Pakistani government and rather than cutting aid, they should offer more assistance.
In an earlier briefing, the US State Department spokesperson said that Pakistan needs to earn the aid that it is given. The suspension is not permanent and the aid will be restored if Pakistan takes decisive action against Taliban and other groups who are creating unrest in the region, and targeting American personnel. She acknowledged Pakistani efforts by saying that Pakistan has certainly been helpful and no country has suffered more from terrorism than Pakistan, but it still needs to do more.
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She didn’t quote the exact figure of the aid that is suspended. Earlier, Congress had retained half of the 700 million dollars of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) until the US Defence Secretary certified that Pakistan continued to conduct military operations against terrorist organizations. The other half of the CSF 350 million dollars will also be affected by the suspension and Pakistan will get nothing.
Pakistan has sacrificed many lives to fight terrorism, operations like Khyber 1, Khyber 2 and Zarb-e-Azab show Pakistan’s commitment to eradicating terrorism.
The US seeks more cooperation from Pakistan while suspending its aid; it is counterproductive in every aspect. America has no right to suspend the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), which is not actually an aid but the reimbursements of the costs incurred by Pakistan in the war against terror. While the aid is not significant enough to put a dent in our company, it might be enough to put a dent in US-Pak relationships.
Pakistan was also placed on a ‘Special Watch List’ by US State Department on Thursday. The State Department revealed a list of worst offenders against religious freedom. Ten countries were designated as the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC). A country is labelled as a CPC after it engages in “systemic, on-going and egregious” violations of religious liberty. Pakistan didn’t meet the criteria of a CPC but it was added to a new category ‘Special Watch List’.
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United States Commission of International Religious Freedom (UNSCIF) released an annual report on religious transgressions by countries. It has been recommending Pakistan to be put on the CPC for several years but the US state department never approved it. Countries are added to the list under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRF).
The suspension is not permanent and the aid will be restored if Pakistan takes decisive action against Taliban and other groups who are creating unrest in the region, and targeting American personnel.
The suspensions of funds and the addition of Pakistan in the ‘Special Watch List’ are apparently independent events, but they are connected because the US has repeatedly accused Pakistan of sponsoring religious terrorism. While religious intolerance exists in Pakistan, our state has taken many steps to reduce it. The Constitution of Pakistan grants full freedom to all minorities to practice their religion. Even though the blasphemy laws do exist, they are not exclusive for Muslims; they protect the religious sentiments of all the religious groups in Pakistan.
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Pakistan has sacrificed many lives to fight terrorism, operations like Khyber 1, Khyber 2 and Zarb-e-Azab show Pakistan’s commitment to eradicating terrorism. Pakistan is also fencing its border with Afghanistan and integrating FATA into the mainstream. The US should acknowledge these steps taken by the Pakistani government and rather than cutting aid, they should offer more assistance. There is no solution to the terrorism problem in the region without adding Pakistan to the equation.