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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.