Pakistan’s alliance with the United States seems to be coming towards an end following the US decision to suspend security aid, Pakistan Minister of Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif told the Wall Street Journal on Friday (Jan. 5).
Asif said he believes the US-Pakistan relations are now at risk, especially after the tensions heightened and moods turned sour when President Donald Trump warned Islamabad to “do more” against terrorists, to whom, he alleged, the country provides safe havens.
“We do not have any alliance [with the US], this is not how allies behave,” the minister told WSJ.
On New Year’s Day, US President Donald Trump tweeted that the US had “foolishly” given Pakistan over $33 billion in aid over the past 15 years, adding that Islamabad gives “safe havens to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help”.
“No more!” Trump added.
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal said the foreign minister’s statement further ratcheted up an increasingly tense exchange in the past week between the two countries, which have maintained a rocky anti-terror collaboration since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “Those ties have frayed but not broken despite differences over Afghanistan, India and the 2011 U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, which was undertaken without Islamabad’s prior knowledge.”
In that fraught context, the two countries’ relations appeared likely to continue in a grudging, distrustful way, given that Washington and Islamabad haven’t taken more drastic steps or moved to actually dissolve the bulk of their complex ties, WSJ added.
For Washington, jettisoning support for a longtime nuclear-armed ally in a strategic location isn’t easy. For its part, Pakistan fears a full break could lead the U.S. to apply its leverage in international forums to hurt the country’s economy, according to WSJ.
A long-festering dispute lies at the heart of the conflict between the two countries: The U.S. accuses Pakistan of harboring jihadists who kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, while Islamabad says Washington doesn’t adequately acknowledge Pakistan’s role in decimating al Qaeda or its sacrifice of thousands of lives after joining America’s war on terror, the WSJ report said adding:
“Islamabad also sees the U.S. growing ever closer to its archenemy India, with the Trump administration even inviting New Delhi to take a bigger role in Afghanistan—a move experts say all but guaranteed Pakistan’s pullback from cooperating with the U.S. . The cleavage could push Pakistan further into the arms of China and complicate America’s effort to end the Afghanistan war, its longest-running conflict. BMI Research, an economic-analysis firm based in London, said in a report Friday that the U.S. suspension of aid “will likely accelerate Pakistan’s geopolitical drift towards China.”
New York Times: Dealing with Pakistan is both vital and difficult
Afghan officials have pleaded with three American presidents to reconsider their support for Pakistan, which was both receiving billions of dollars in American aid and harboring the leaders of a Taliban insurgency that the United States has struggled to defeat, the New York Times said adding:
“But when President Trump suspended nearly all American security aid to Pakistan on Thursday for what he called the country’s “lies and deceit,” any jubilation in the halls of power in Afghanistan — and there was some — was leavened with worry over how the move might affect a complex war that has pushed the Afghan government to the brink.
“If there is one consensus among Afghan leaders and their American counterparts, it is that dealing with Pakistan is both vital and difficult. The question on the table after the cutoff of military aid to Pakistan is who will come under the most pressure: the Pakistanis, or the coalition fighting the Taliban.”
Muhammed Umer Daudzai, a former Afghan interior minister and ambassador to Pakistan, was quoted as saying: “The pressure on Pakistan had come too late, with the country having developed regional allies who would help it weather the financial toll. The financial sanctions may not bite Pakistan because they have developed alternatives.”
Mr. Daudzai also said. “The only area the impact could be huge, but it’s a bit too early to judge, is the field of air force. The Pakistani system is still hugely dependent on the U.S. It can take a long time to switch from that.”
Trump backs Bill to end all aid to Pakistan
Not surprisingly, President Donald Trump Saturday (Jan 6) supported Senator Rand Paul’s proposal for a bill to stop the US aid to Pakistan for failing to clamp down on terror groups and divert the money for building roads and bridges in the US.
“Good idea Rand!” Trump tweeted, sharing a video of Republican Senator promoting his bill to stop US aid to Pakistan and use the money towards domestic infrastructure projects.
“I’m introducing a bill to end aid to Pakistan in the coming days. My bill will take the money that would have gone to Pakistan and put it in an infrastructure fund to build roads and bridges here at home,” Paul said.
The Trump administration Thursday suspended about USD 2 billion in security aid to Pakistan for “failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups and dismantle their safe havens.”
The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes after President Trump in a New Year’s Day tweet accused the country of giving nothing to the US but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.
The suspended amount also include USD 255 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress. In addition, the Department of Defense has suspended the entire USD 900 million of the Coalition Support Funds (CSF) money to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017 and other unspent money from previous fiscal years.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net). He is the author of several books including Islam & Muslims in the 21st Century published in 2017.