News & Politics

Pentagon Cancels $300 Million in Aid to Pakistan

Pakistani students of Islamic seminaries chant slogans during a rally in support of blasphemy laws, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Hundreds of students rallied in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, urging government to remove blasphemous content from social media and take stern action against those who posted blasphemous content on social media. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

The Pentagon has made a final decision to cancel $300 million in military aid to Pakistan due to that country’s support for terrorists.

Early this year, the Trump administration suspended the delivery of Coalition Support Funds to Islamabad, citing the fact that Pakistan gives safe haven to terrorists and supports extremists. At the time, the administration said Pakistan could receive the funds if it showed it was serious about clamping down on terrorist groups. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis did not see any progress and canceled the funds.

Reuters:

“Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy the remaining $300 (million) was reprogrammed,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said.

Faulkner said the Pentagon aimed to spend the $300 million on “other urgent priorities” if approved by Congress. He said another $500 million in CSF was stripped by Congress from Pakistan earlier this year, to bring the total withheld to $800 million.

The disclosure came ahead of an expected visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the top U.S. military officer, General Joseph Dunford, to Islamabad. Mattis told reporters on Tuesday that combating militants would be a “primary part of the discussion.”

Experts on the Afghan conflict, America’s longest war, argue that militant safe havens in Pakistan have allowed Taliban-linked insurgents in Afghanistan a place to plot deadly strikes and regroup after ground offensives.

This is an action that should have been taken long ago. Pakistan has been playing both ends against the middle on the terrorism issue. They give lip service to our counterterrorism strategy in the region while pursuing their own agenda. That agenda includes using terrorists to shape the post-war future in Afghanistan — a future they wish to dominate. They also have a keen interest in keeping the Kashmir conflict with India simmering, as the two nuclear powers grapple for control of the region.

The reason the U.S. has allowed Pakistan to play this game for so long is the issue of resupplying our troops in Afghanistan. While there are other resupply routes to the north, transit through Pakistan was the easiest and the cheapest. But with the drawdown in troops the last five years, Pakistan became less vital to maintaining our soldiers in Afghanistan.

Pakistani intelligence, a power center in Islamabad unto themselves, acts independently of government control as does the military. They pursue their own interests, sometimes at the expense of U.S. interests. But the U.S. must avoid a total break with Islamabad given that Pakistan is a nuclear power. The cut in aid is serious, but the U.S. still sends more than a billion dollars to Pakistan in other military aid and economic assistance.

Maybe this will be a wakeup call for Pakistan. But don’t bet on it.