Tuesday Mar 21, 2017
Weeks after US President Donald Trump took the office, there has been a rising number of officials, including army generals and US-positive groups, who are urging for a scrutiny on aid policy for Pakistan.
Although the Pak-US relations have oscillated between smooth and bumpy, a cut in the military aid – quite likely according to a US diplomat who preferred anonymity – would be alarming for the country, which already faces current accounts and fiscal deficits, Bloomberg says.
The Hand that helps
Pakistan has been monetarily aided by the US’ gracious hand since the 9/11 attacks. However, America has continuously questioned the country’s progress in trying to wipe out, or at least reduce, the number of extremist elements.
The nation has quite fittingly danced the tango too, when, in a bid to please the US – that had withdrawn $300 million worth of aid to the country in November 2016 – Mumbai bombings suspect Hafiz Saeed was put under house arrest.
A narrowing in the military aid is also expected to adversely impact the sluggishly improving security situation of Pakistan, especially post-2014 APS tragedy.
Will Pakistan’s funding really take a hit?
Favour for shrinking the US’ military spending on Pakistan is gaining persistent momentum, as members of the new administration push for a move to review the policy. In this regard, Hussain Haqqani – a journalist and former Pakistani ambassador to the US – commented, “There is strong support […] to reduce military funding to the country.”
Last month, NATO head in Afghanistan General John Nicholson spoke to the US Senate Armed Service Committee, wherein he noted that “it’s very difficult to succeed on the battlefield when your enemy enjoys external support and safe haven.”
In addition, the new budget proposal – unsurprisingly named America First – by Trump demands significant reductions in foreign aid (28.5 percent). It is noteworthy that of the US’ military assistance recipients, Pakistan ranks as number six.
Where does Trump stand?
It is surprising to note that Trump, in a phone call with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called the latter “a terrific guy,” adding that the US is ready to lend a hand to Pakistan in dealing with its existing issues.
A startling twist to the story is Trump’s prior views that he posted on his official Twitter account in 2012.
“Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend. We’ve given them billions and billions of dollars, and what (cont) http://t.co/O5S4cQV3— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2012
“Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend,” said the now-President. “We’ve given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get? Betrayal and disrespect—and much worse,” he added.
Pakistan’s stance to date
Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar in an interview recently stressed on the country’s need for the US aid to carry on, reasoning it with the high cost of anti-terrorism operatives. He highlighted the horrific bombings of February as the terrorists’ reaction to army’s action.
The finance minister intends to have a meeting with International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and Trump and his team soon. “Defeating terrorism is a global responsibility and we are playing our due part,” Bloomberg reported.
Furthermore, PM spokesperson Musadiq Malik commented, “We would like continuity in the support for the fight.”