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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
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.
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.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid