News / Asia

Analysts: Suspension of Aid to Pakistan Could be Risky

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier prepares to fire during a military operation against militants in Pakistan's Khurram tribal region, Saturday, July 9, 2011
A Pakistani paramilitary soldier prepares to fire during a military operation against militants in Pakistan's Khurram tribal region, Saturday, July 9, 2011
Gary Thomas

The Obama administration has said it will suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid and reimbursements to Pakistan.  The move is widely seen as reflecting a high level of frustration in Washington with the Pakistani government.   It is also a highly risky step to take against a government that is a key ally in a war.

Government-to-government disputes between friendly governments usually take place in private and are smoothed over in public.  So the Obama administration’s decision to hold back some $800 million in U.S. military assistance is a highly unusual display of Washington’s diplomatic displeasure with Islamabad.  

Former State Department policy planner Daniel Markey, now with the Council on Foreign Relations, says the move reflects a downward trajectory in U.S.-Pakistan relations.

"It’s definitely a sign that the relationship is spiraling downwards, and I think it’s a ratcheting up of the pressure from Washington," said Markey. "But I don’t think it’s a significant enough ratcheting up to actually turn a corner in a constructive way.  If anything, it looks more like frustration and venting, which may contribute to a further spiraling downward."

Total U.S. aid to Pakistan last year came to about $4.5 billion, about half of which went to the military.  Daniel Markey says the administration probably acted in anticipation of some kind of move by Congress, where sentiment to curtail aid to Pakistan has been growing.

"The U.S. has been frustrated and has felt that Pakistan has not turned a positive corner - that, if anything, relations from the Pakistani side have gotten more negative," he said. "And so I gather that in response to that - and perhaps in anticipation that the U.S. Congress would cut assistance if the administration did not - the Obama administration has decided, as they put it, to postpone the delivery of monies, some of which the Pakistanis believe they deserve because they’ve already conducted operations and used that money."

But Professor Larry Goodson of the U.S. Army War College says it is a gamble to hold back aid to Islamabad since most of the supplies for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan move by land routes through Pakistan.

"It is an extremely big risk to take. In my judgment, it’s extremely dangerous to tell the person who has his hands around your throat, ‘don’t squeeze, or I’ll get really angry with you.’  The truth is, they control the supply lines," said Goodson. "And in the past, we have seen clear indicators when they have been unhappy with us, there have been attacks on the supply lines."

The U.S. has complained that Pakistan has not done enough to eradicate militant sanctuaries along the Afghan border and has demanded more cooperation from the Pakistani military and intelligence services.  But U.S. officials privately voice concern about sharing intelligence with Pakistan for fear it will be leaked to militants.  The Pakistani government, and in particular the powerful military, was embarrassed and upset that they were not informed in advance of the U.S. raid on a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad where Osama bin Laden was found and killed.  

Most recently the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, publicly implicated the Pakistani government in the kidnapping, torture, and murder of a Pakistani journalist who was critical of the intelligence service.  Islamabad angrily dismissed the allegation as “baseless” and “irresponsible.”

Pakistan was a key U.S. ally in organizing and supplying the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan in the 1980s, but was then subjected to some U.S. military sanctions over its nuclear program after Soviet forces withdrew.  Larry Goodson says that left a lot of residual bad feeling towards the U.S. in Pakistan.

"Pakistan has this world view whereby the United States is an unreliable partner or ally and that we periodically push them to do things that they don’t want to do or whatever, and then we leave them in the lurch," he said. "That’s the narrative, right, the Pakistani narrative of the United States, and not without its justification and all that.  But it nonetheless is a sort of narrative."

Goodson says the sentiment generated in Pakistan by the current military aid suspension may come back to haunt the U.S. as moves begin for a political settlement in neighboring Afghanistan, where Pakistan is expected to want to play some kind of role.

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs