US suspends $255mn aid to Pakistan hours after Trump's tweet
President Donald Trump has followed through on his words. Hours after accusing Pakistan of giving the US "nothing but lies & deceit", America has suspended a $255mn military aid to the Asian country. The final decision will depend on Pakistan's response towards terrorism within its borders, the White House said. The US' slashing of monetary aid to Islamabad has been systematic.
US' stance on Pakistan becoming increasingly hostile
In August'17, Trump described plans for a tougher approach towards Pakistan while unveiling his updated Afghanistan policy. In recent times, both US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have upped their criticism of Pakistan. Among US' main issues of contention is the release of UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, who asked all Islamic states to launch 'jihad' against US.
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What's the US' latest directive about?
A day after Trump's latest threat, an official said, "The president has made it clear the US expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil, and that Pakistan's actions in support of the South Asia Strategy will ultimately determine the trajectory of our relationship, including future security assistance." The US will continue reviewing Pakistan's cooperation, they added.
US lawmakers, security analysts support Trump's move
Several US lawmakers as well as CNN's national security analyst agreed with Trump's move. "You're either with the US, or against us," said Republican Congressman Markwayne Mullin. "I've been fighting to end aid to Pakistan for years and will lead the charge again," tweeted Senator Rand Paul. According to CNN's Samantha Vinograd, "It isn't the only step, but it could be the right one."
US has given us only invective and mistrust, Pakistan responds
Within hours, the Pakistan Defense Ministry responded it had got nothing except "invective and mistrust" for its support for US' anti-terror war. "Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated al-Qaida over last 16 years. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis," the Ministry said in a tweet.
Can either country afford to anger the other?
Recently, US has sent officials to convey a "tough message" to Islamabad. However, Pakistani media quoted PM Shahid Abbasi saying Pakistan no longer depends on US. Pakistan's proximity to Afghanistan and its significance in US-Afghanistan communication give it an edge. Though US can influence international financial assistance to Pakistan, it has to weigh the leverage against risks, says Johns Hopkins Associate Professor Joshua White.
What could it mean for India?
A change in US-Pakistan ties will naturally affect India, which has seen much friction with its neighbor lately. Changing dynamics in recent times- breakdown of US-Russian ties, rise of China, emergence of India as a major power, transformation of Indo-US ties and development in Russia-Pakistan relations- are likely to affect the current situation in South Asia and importantly, Pakistan's support for cross-border terrorism.