U.S to cancel $300 million aid to Pakistan
- September 3, 2018, 3:10 pm
The U.S. military plans to cancel $300 million in aid to Pakistan due to Islamabad’s lack of “decisive actions” in support of American strategy in the region.The U.S. has been pushing Pakistan to crack down on militant safe havens in the country, and announced a freeze on aid at the beginning of the year that an official said could be worth almost $2 billion.
Why US Aid to Pakistan?
In 1947, the United States was one of the first countries to recognize an independent Pakistan and to extend considerable assistance for the establishment of key institutions. With U.S. support, Pakistan was able to undertake many notable development projects, such as the Institute for Business Administration, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, the Indus Basin Project, Faisalabad Agricultural Institute, and a variety of other efforts that laid the path for Pakistan’s Green Revolution.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States was a major donor for the construction of the Mangla and Tarbela dams, which at the time of their completion accounted for 70 percent of the country’s power output. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the United States helped build the Guddu Power Station in Sindh and the Lahore University for Management Sciences, which is now considered to be one of the nation’s top business schools.
More recently, U.S. civilian assistance to Pakistan has delivered real results on issues of greatest importance to all Pakistanis: energy, economic growth, stability, education, and health. In addition, when natural or manmade disasters threaten Pakistan, the United States has been quick to respond. Over the past decade, the United States, through USAID, has given Pakistan nearly $7.7 billion of funding. Pakistan remains one of America’s largest recipients of foreign assistance, a sign of our long-term partnership and commitment.
Timeline of the us aid to Pakistan
1950-1964: As the Cold War heated up, a 1954 security agreement prompted the United States to provide nearly $2.5 billion in economic aid and $700 million in military aid to Pakistan.
1965-1979: With the Indo-Pakistani hostilities in the late 1960s, the United States retreated. Between 1965 and 1971, the U.S. sent only $26 million in military aid, which was cut back even further to $2.9 million through the end of the decade. Meanwhile, economic aid kept flowing, totaling $2.55 billion over the 15 years. Everything came to a halt in 1979, however, when the Carter administration cut off all but food aid after discovering a uranium-enrichment facility in Pakistan. Pakistani leader Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq refused $400 million, split for economic and military aid from President Jimmy Carter, calling it "peanuts." The following year, he was rewarded with a much more attractive offer.
1979-1990: The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan changed everything. Pakistan's ISI security apparatus became the primary means of funneling covert U.S. assistance to anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan. From 1980 to 1990, the United States ramped up its contributions for both development and military purposes, sending more than $5 billion over the course of the decade.
1991-2000: But even while Pakistan was serving a strategic Cold War purpose, concerns persisted about the country's nuclear ambitions. That gave President George H.W. Bush an easy out from the massive funding commitments in 1990, after the fall of the Soviet Union. Aid over the next decade withered to $429 million in economic assistance and $5.2 million in military assistance, a drop-off Pakistanis still cite bitterly, accusing the United States of leaving them high and dry during the decade.
2001-2009: Since 9/11, the United States has once again bolstered its funding commitments, sending nearly $9 billion in military assistance both to aid and reimburse Pakistan for its operations in the unwieldy border regions with Afghanistan. Another $3.6 billion has funded economic and diplomatic initiatives. But U.S. officials and journalists' accounts have raised concerns that such funds are not being used as intended, and not just because of the typical concerns about corruption. Documented military and civilian government deals with Taliban elements, like a 2004 agreement with Waziri militant leader Nek Mohammed, have confirmed that money intended to fight the Taliban is, in many cases, being used instead to pay them off. (Islamabad is currently battling Taliban fighters in Waziristan.) When the deals fall through, as rapidly shifting alliances in Pakistan's tribal regions often do, that money ultimately ends up funding the insurgency. U.S. officials have expressed particular concerns about the Pakistani government's links to the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, which reportedly has ties to Al Qaeda. At the same time, former president Pervez Musharraf has recently admitted to using U.S. military funding to strengthen defenses against India.
2009-2014: A new five-year, $7.5 billion assistance package was passed by Congress in September and signed by President Obama in October, with stipulations explicitly prohibiting funds from being used for nuclear proliferation, to support terrorist groups, or to pay for attacks in neighboring countries. It also puts a new emphasis on the bottom line, reserving the right to cut off aid if Pakistan fails to crack down on militants. Those restrictions have opened a rift between the military and the civilian government in Pakistan, which maintain an uneasy relationship following nearly a decade of military rule under Musharraf. Military leaders worry they are being sidelined by the increased U.S. emphasis on development and accountability, claiming the bill threatens Pakistan's sovereignty. But supporters of the bill say the restrictions are no more stringent than previous ones, and accuse Pakistani military leaders of manufacturing a crisis to undermine the civilian government.
On January 4, 18, the State Department announced that it was suspending security aid to the country, estimated to amount to roughly $1.3bn.
The threat and even the actual cutting of security aid to Pakistan is not a new strategy; it has periodically been deployed by previous US presidents, with mixed results. The aid freeze under Trump, however, is particularly troublesome for two reasons.
First, the unpredictable nature of the Trump presidency, its lack of a cohesive foreign policy, Trump's aversion to reversing any of his diktats mean that there may be little chance of the decision being reversed. In Trump's view that would be a sign of weakness and hence cannot happen.
Second, much of Pakistan's ability to turn to powers other than the United States to make up for the aid lost, few have considered the possibility that it may be one of these other allies that may have persuaded the US to ditch Pakistan in an effort to make the latter more dependent on them. One likely suspect for this role would be Saudi Arabia, whose close connections to the Trump administration are well known and which would benefit from increased Pakistani dependence.