At the beginning of 2018 — with his first tweet of the New Year, actually — President Donald Trump placed Pakistan on notice that America’s rather generous financial aid to the central Asian nation would be suspended in light of Pakistan’s “lies and deceit” with regard to helping us in the War on Terror.
It appears Pakistan didn’t quite get the message, as it was just announced that $300 million in military aid to Pakistan had been canceled and reprogrammed to be spent on “other urgent priorities” in the region.
According to Reuters, the Pentagon cited Pakistan’s failure to decisively act against suspected Islamic extremists within their own borders.
Not pulling their weight in the War on Terror
Pakistan has long been accused of granting safe harbor from U.S. and coalition forces to Islamic terrorists and brutal Taliban militants from Afghanistan.
The $300 million was part of a larger aid program known as Coalition Support Funds, and Pakistan could have still received those funds this year if they had made a noticeable effort in helping to crack down on radical Islamic terrorists. But they made no distinguishable moves against the insurgents, and have now lost access to those funds.
The $300 million that was just cut was in addition to another $500 million in aid to Pakistan that had been canceled earlier in the year by Congress for similar reasons, totaling a full $800 million in scheduled aid to Pakistan that has been diverted to other, more-deserving recipients in the region.
The announced cut in aid came just days prior to a scheduled trip to Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford. The aid in exchange for fighting radical militants will most certainly be a “primary part of the discussion.”
All about timing
This isn’t the first time that aid to Pakistan has been suspended or even canceled, and unless the Pakistani government makes some substantial changes, it likely won’t be the last.
However, this particular aid cut has come at a time when Pakistan is struggling financially with a weak currency and overwhelming debt that has them on the verge of approaching the International Monetary Fund — which is dominated by the U.S. — with hat in hand to secure a bailout for their debts.
That leaves them in a rather vulnerable position in that they really have no other choice but to cooperate with the U.S. in combating Islamic terrorism — or continue to be financially squeezed to the point of economic failure.
The U.S. has reportedly granted Pakistan more than $33 billion in financial assistance since 2002 — $14 billion of which came from the CSF program — and while they have helped the War on Terror in some respects, their cooperation has been severely lacking in other areas.
This aid cut should serve as a warning to Pakistan that it is time for them to get fully on board in fighting against terrorism or risk being cut out of the very generous financial assistance America is more than willing to share with our allies who actually act like allies.