The Pakistan Problem: Why US cannot cut the ties with Islamabad so easily

The hard goings in the relationship between America and Pakistan are not unknown, and the last week brought a new low for the America and Pakistan relationship that began with a withering tweet from the US President, mentioning Pakistan’s failed efforts in countering terrorism.
Following the tweet, the US announced a string of measures that made a clear distinction between how the Trump authority no longer views Pakistan as an imperfect friend, but as a talented enemy.

The new measure includes blocking the financial aid to Pakistan, with $255 million in Foreign Military Financing and as much as $900 million in the Coalition Support Fund. Rand Paul vowed to introduce a bill in US Senate to cut all aid to Pakistan.

In reply, Pakistan’s foreign minister declared that there was no partnership between the two countries and the US has been a friend who always betrays.

The US has granted three types of assistance; military, economic, and the CSF funds. Generally, the military aid and CSF funds, which started in 2002, contain most of the US assistance to Pakistan. However, the CSF seen by Pakistan as reimbursement for operations conducted by its troops inside Pakistan is a misdescription that effectively serves as hush money that Islamabad spend on farming terrorism.

Make no mistake, Trump is neither wrong about Pakistan nor is he the first US President to blame Pakistan for its deceit and suspend American assistance, the former US President, Dwight Eisenhower provided over $800 million to Pakistan for almost 11 years, when the US started providing financial aid to Pakitan in 1954. However, in 1965, following an arms embargo imposed on Pakistan, President Lyndon Johnson suspended US military aid to Pakistan after the outbreak of the first India-Pakistan war.
There has been continuous release and suspension of financial aid by the US to Pakistan and, since 2002, Pakistan has received over $33 billion in US military and civilian aid, along with nearly $21 billion (an estimated $4.1 billion in Foreign Military Financing and nearly $15 billion in CSF funds) in military support.

The years-old trust deficit has made it hard for the United States to establish a quid-pro-quo relationship with Pakistan with the view of its assistance. If anything, Pakistan has steadily become more insincere and inconsistent in delivering on its many promises, including, for example, not abandoning its support to various terrorist groups.

Today, the prime challenge in the US-Pakistan relationship is the diversity of interests.

The questions now are: what comes next and what does it put on for the future of this turbulent partnership?

As the events develop gradually, the United States is likely to take additional penal actions against Islamabad, along with the removal of Pakistan’s unearned non-NATO ally status that gives the country preferred access to military technology and sales. It is also likely that the US will place sanctions on specific Pakistani army and intelligence personnel with ties to terror groups, targeting Pakistani banks and financial entities used as laundering schemes, and increasing drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

However, the immediate matter of interest is whether US measures could cause Pakistan to retaliate by blocking down US entrance to Pakistan’s land routes, ports, and airspace. Since 2001, the United States has become badly dependent on using Pakistan’s air-and-ground routes to send lethal and nonlethal supplies to its forces and allies in Afghanistan.

(By: Javaid Ahmad)

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