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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid