In the wake of the Pulwama attacks and subsequent international condemnation of the same, USA has decided to reduce the aid to Pakistan to ‘almost nothing’, which was its key beneficiary for military and logistical support. Pakistan since 2002 has been receiving funds from USA as its share of compensation being US’ coalition partner in its fight against terrorism. In light to the operational support provided to US forces in Afghanistan since 2002, Pakistan has received nearly $14.5 billion from the US in the pretext of counter-terror operations.
The US Department of Defence released a summary of budgetary requests on Tuesday which revealed that the fiscal year 2020 budget request for Coalition Support Fund (CSF) of $450 million which was $450 million (or 50%) less than that of FY 2019, when $900 million was allocated for it. The statement clarified that the reason for the massive deduction was, “The continuing suspension of US security assistance to Pakistan based on the President’s January 4, 2018, guidance.” At that time, the U.S. State Department had announced the decision, saying it reflected the Trump administration’s frustration that Pakistan has not done more against militant groups that Washington says use sanctuaries in Pakistan to launch attacks in neighboring Afghanistan that have killed U.S., Afghan and other forces.
In his first tweet of 2018, US president Donald Trump tweeted about Pakistan’s pleasure in giving safe haven to terrorists.
The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
However, the U.S. officials had stressed at that time that the money could go through if Islamabad took decisive action against the militant groups.
After more than a year, the situation has changed for the worst. Even in light of the grey listing by Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Pakistan has somehow increased its support to the terror groups which have wrecked havoc in the neighbouring nations like India, Afghanistan and Iran.
Considering the fact that Pakistan has refused to take concrete action against the 22 United Nations-designated terrorist entities it hosts, Trump administration has taken the welcome step. Over the years, the footprints of many terrorist attacks in the West have been traced to Pakistan. The United States found Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden sheltered in the town of Abbottabad. Other terrorist leaders captured after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US were also found living in Pakistan.
An US expert on South Asia affairs stated that the reduced budget by the US department of defence for the Coalition Support Fund could mean “that the Pakistanis will get zero in FY20, with the $450mn channeled elsewhere”. The expert suggested that the dismal sum reserved for the request could mean that US government has not “ended security aid to Pakistan” and “wants at some to remain available now and going forward.” This decision to not completely end the security aid is similar to a candy being dangled in front of the Pakistanis, signifying the grant that could be given if Pakistan simply took constructive actions against the militants. Pakistan’s economy is in ruins and there is a plausible chance that loans by International Monetary Fund and World Bank will not get sanctioned given the FATF grey (and possible black) listing. Bearing in mind this drastic economic crisis, any sane minded country would come to its senses but Pakistan is obviously an exception.
Since the suspension on 4th January, 2018, Trump administration has been taking measures to put sanctions and curtail the military aid. In September last year, the US government announced a $300 million cut in military aid to Pakistan to increase pressure on the country. Moreover, in 2019, Pakistan was supposed to receive $700 mn out of the $900 mn requested by the US Department of Defence. However, the Congress only authorised $350 mn in the National Defense Authorization Act 2019, which was meant to be distributed among other countries, as well as used for border security. Now, we have a propitious situation in which USA will not allocate any fund to support the terrorist nation.
This development comes at a time when the global pressure on Pakistan to act against terror groups acting on its soil has increased in the wake of the Pulwama attacks, which was carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, and killed 44 CRPF jawans. Moreover, in the same week, another suicide bombing killed 27 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members and injured 13 others in south-eastern Iran. It is high time that US realises that the military aim sanctioned to Pakistan to curb terror activities originating on its soil was in fact used to facilitate those very attacks. Pakistan has played the victim card for too long, whining about how they are doing their best to curtail the terror attacks while in reality supporting and favouring the global attacks. With each terror activity, their façade has been wearing off and has eventually led to a situation in which even its main patrons, China and Saudi Arabia are refusing to lend it support. Pakistan’s position as a safe haven for terrorists has reached all new heights and the terror country is finding itself being a global pariah with the final nail in the coffin being that of their long term ally, USA.