Wednesday, July 13, 2011

US Cuts Pakistani Aid

It was recently reported that the US had cut $800 million in aid to Pakistan due to Pakistan "not stepping up in the fight against terrorism." This could have a major impact on the US in Afghanistan and also in its bid to control Central Asia.

The loss of aid "would hold back more than one-third of the $2 billion the U.S. sends Pakistan each year for security." This cut is no doubt related to the fact that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan and the fact that he was extremely close by a nationally renowned Pakistani military academy, as well as Pakistan's recent decision to expel 100 US Special Forces who trained Pakistani troops. The Americans argue that "Pakistan's military and security service can't be trusted to do what is necessary to curtail Southwest Asia's terrorism" and they do have a point, seeing as how it has been reported that the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence agency has ties to the Taliban (see here and here).

The Pakistanis are angry as well over the loss of aid. The Pakistani army made a statement on Sunday in which they said "that it doesn't need U.S. military aid." They have also threatened to move troops away from the Afghan border, thus making it easier for militants to use Pakistan as a safe haven. However, that is questionable as over the past several weeks "[insurgent] traffic has moved in the reverse direction, with militants crossing over from Afghanistan to attack Pakistani security posts, Pakistani officials say" and these are quite large groups, some of them are up to 600 men. The Pakistani military has been focused on "on crushing the Tehrik-e-Taliban, and it is inconceivable that they would thin out on the Afghan border which is where the threat is coming from, at the moment." Thus, this threat to move troops away from the Afghan border may be more of a bluff than anything.

The cut in aid could also have a negative impact on Pakistan's economy in the long-term as it "could strain the country's finances further and widen the fiscal deficit" as the delay in funds "bumped Pakistan's fiscal deficit to 5.3 percent of gross domestic product for fiscal year 2010/11 (July-June), a finance minister official said. With the CSF money, the deficit was anticipated to be 5.1 percent."'

While the US is quite angry at Pakistan, the Americans and their NATO allies know that they need Pakistan "to control border areas near Afghanistan that the Taliban use as support bases" as well as use Pakistan for logistics since the nation serves as a crucial transportation route to supply Western forces in Afghanistan.

However, the Americans may want to give the aid to Pakistan if they want to keep the Pakistanis in the US sphere of influence. If not, the Pakistanis may drift even closer to China. It was reported today that "China has pledged its support for Pakistan following the United States' decision to suspended 800 million dollars in military assistance to Islamabad." The Chinese have aided Pakistan before both economically (see here as well) but also militarily (see here and here also). Thus, while the US is punishing them, China is coming to Pakistan's aid in its time of need. This could potentially push Pakistan further into the Chinese camp.

The relationship between the US and Pakistan is quite complicated as the US is only using Pakistan to help fulfill its foreign policy interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan is using America to get financial and military training in case another war with India occurs. However, it seems that the several problems that are in this relationship will have to be worked out in order for both America and Pakistan to be free from terrorism.

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