The US cuts military aid worth $255 million. Is Trump admin giving up on Pakistan?
The Trump administration on Friday announced the United States will deny Pakistan military aid amounting to $255 million as it expects Islamabad to take decisive action “against terrorists and militants on its soil”.
“The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in FY 2016 in Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan at this time,” said a spokesperson of the President’s National Security Council.
The statement reflected and sealed the administration’s complete disillusionment with Pakistan, which had sought to brazenly disregard the explicit warnings issued by President Donald Trump personally and leading members of his cabinet, such as secretaries James Mattis and Rex Tillerson.
“This could be the severest blow dealt with Islamabad by this administration if it indeed decided to withhold it,” said a leading US expert on Pakistan, who did not want to be identified. “There is more coming,” the expert added.
The amount, $255 million, is left over from $1.1 billion aid earmarked for Pakistan in 2016, and which included non-military aid as well. It was cleared for handing over in August, just days before it would lapse as unspent money.
The Haqqani Network is an affiliate of Afghan Taliban and works out of Pakistan, inflicting massive casualties on the US-led international coalition in Afghanistan. Frustrated by Islamabad’s reluctance to give them, the United States has tied large portions of military aid payments to Pakistan for its actions aimed at debilitating the network.
Pakistan, however, has chosen to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in such payments over 2015 and 2016, instead of kicking out the terrorists. And it has lost equity.
The Trump administration was clear from the start it wouldn’t countenance continuity in ties and aid without real changes. “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” President Donald Trump had said unveiling his new South Asia strategy in August. “But that will have to change, and that will change immediately.”
But there was no marked change in Pakistan’s behavior, as was publicly attested by a top US military commander, General John Nicholson, in November, three months after Trump’s unequivocal warning.>