- The US is no longer Pakistan’s largest benefactor, that position being occupied by China.
- The loss of funds may not, therefore, be a big deal for Pakistan, especially if China is willing to step into the breach.
- Sources said while the US was clear that it would respond “forcefully”, the action is clearly temporary and can be reversed.
Hours after the US announced cutting off military aid to Pakistan, US ambassador Kenneth Juster met foreign secretary S Jaishankar on Friday morning to discuss the details and implications of the US action.
The US, in its most sweeping action yet, suspended almost $1.3 billion in military assistance to Pakistan after US president Donald Trump tweeted on New Year’s Day that the US would no longer tolerate Pakistan’s double-speak, accusing Pakistan of having “given us nothing but lies & deceit” and providing “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”
India has not given any statement on the subject, which, sources said, could be because neither the US or India wants to “gloat” or humiliate Pakistan further. Pakistan has predictably reacted with outrage, with the government promising to “reveal” facts of US aid, while others have demanded a downgrading of diplomatic ties with the US. But India, said sources, has reason to be pleased with the US actions.
The US is no longer Pakistan’s largest benefactor, that position being occupied by China. The loss of funds may not, therefore, be a big deal for Pakistan, especially if China is willing to step into the breach. But there is a big reputational cost, and despite its closeness to China, Islamabad continues to look to the US for a large number of things.
Sources said while the US was clear that it would respond “forcefully”, the action is clearly temporary and can be reversed. India has, for years demanded that the US stop “mollycoddling” Pakistan who plays both sides on the terrorism front. “Pakistan has the ability to get this money back in the future, but they have to take decisive action” against groups like the Taliban that are “destabilizing the region and targeting US personnel,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday.
US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley, opened another door for Pakistan, saying US could make some case-by-case exceptions based on critical to national security interests. Pakistan she said, “work with us at times and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan.”
While successive US administrations have bemoaned Pakistan’s duplicity, this isn’t the first time the US has denied military aid to Pakistan, nor is this the first time that bilateral relations are on a serious downturn. In recent years, the US refused to reimburse Pakistan for 2012, after Pakistan blocked NATO supply lines between November 2011 and July 2012. The current suspension belongs to the almost $1 billion authorised in additional coalition support funds (CSF) to Pakistan, of which $300 million was subject to certification that Pakistan was taking recognizable steps against the Haqqani network, and not subject to a waiver. In 2016 and 2017 US authorized $900 million for Pakistan, but refused certification in 2015 and 2016, which meant that these funds have not been available to Pakistan for the past two years anyway.
According to recent US media reports, Washington was angry with Pakistan when it blocked US access to a Haqqani network leader who was picked up by the Pakistanis when they “rescued” an American woman and her Canadian husband from Taliban captivity.
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