Trump administration to announce cuts in 'security assistance' for Pakistan

Addressing a fiery press conference outside his residence in Islamabad, Khan called the Pakistan government to expel some USA diplomatic personnel and cut off supply routes for the US-led coalition forces from the port city of Karachi to landlocked Afghanistan, as well as close its airspace to U.S. forces. Pakistan has developed a close relationship with China, for example, which is investing $62 billion in infrastructure projects in the country.

On the ground, the Trump administration has authorized the US military to launch more-and more potent-drone strikes targeting militants operating along Pakistan's western border after they were curtailed during the Obama administration's second term.

Have U.S. -Pakistan relations always been this fraught? At that time, Indian officials had been heartened by Trump's tough words on Pakistan, but had been waiting to see the follow-up.

Unfortunately, Pakistan's all-powerful military appears unable to escape a prison of perpetual denial. In exchange, Washington offered millions of dollars in aid and military support.

In efforts to persuade Islamabad to abandon this nefarious "double game", the US government has deployed a constant stream of diplomatic and economic carrots-including $33 billion in aid and "reimbursements" since 2002-but virtually no sticks.

The Ministry defended Islamabad's stance on terrorism, saying that "it has fought the war against terrorism largely from its own resources which has cost over $120 billion in 15 years". From $2.60 billion in 2013 to $1.60 billion in 2015, the request for aid appropriations and military reimbursements in 2018 fell to just $350 million.

So far, Trump and his advisers have seemed inclined to take a hard-line approach toward the country.

The calls to Capitol Hill came a day after Washington accused Pakistan of playing a "double game" on fighting terrorism and warned Islamabad it would have to do more if it wanted to maintain US aid. "But that will have to change, and that will change immediately". They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help.

The Trump administration is rightly signaling to Islamabad that "business as usual" has come to an end. Can Pakistan survive the aid cut or will it give up its loyalties towards the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network?

The money that has been suspended at this time does not mean that it will be withheld forever, she said. The US, he noted, wants "action against the Haqqani network".

"People have long asked, why don't you do more about Pakistan, and I think this sort of answers that question", she said.

Pakistani officials reacted to the news with measured frustration.

Asked to comment on the United States announcement suspending hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of security assistance to Pakistan, Afghan political and security expert Rahimullah Yusufzai said that the decision was not unexpected, and does not mean that the United States will cut off aid completely.

He said Pakistan could fall back on Saudi Arabia and China for military supplies, but it still depends on the US for certain types of high-end equipment.

On Jan. 3, Nawaz Sharif, who resigned as prime minister in July, implored Pakistanis to "appraise our actions" and "break this spell of self-deception".

  • Joey Payne