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05 Jan 2018

US suspends over $1bn in security aid to Pakistan

The changing US-Pakistan ties

Taking a strict stand against Pakistan's support for terrorism, the US has suspended more than $1.15bn in security assistance to the South Asian nation.

Pakistan will get the funds if it shows visible anti-terror measures, the US asserted.

This comes right after it placed Islamabad on a "Special Watch List" for failing to safeguard religious minorities.

How might this changing US-Pakistan relationship affect India?

In context

The changing US-Pakistan ties
US' stance on Pakistan becoming increasingly hostile


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.


The scope of Pakistan's alleged support of terror groups

It's believed Pakistan supports the Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban, both of which focus on Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban, in association with its Afghan counterpart, operates within Pakistan.

US has asserted Pakistan will get the funds if it takes action against such groups.

It also wants access to a Haqqani member who was captured by Pakistan in October; Islamabad had earlier rejected the request.

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The latest suspension of funds doesn't apply to civil assistance


The latest suspension of funds doesn't apply to civil assistance

The suspension includes $225mn in Foreign Military Funding for 2016 and another $900mn in Coalition Support Fund for 2017.

The US wouldn't supply any military equipment to Pakistan either.

Exceptions might be made "on a case-by-case basis". The suspension would be lifted if Pakistan took strict action against terror, it said.

The freeze isn't applicable to civil assistance programs.


Can either country afford to anger the other?

Pakistan is nonetheless important for US: most of its ground supply as well as military flight routes to Afghanistan go via Pakistan, which might retaliate by shutting them off.

However, since Pakistan supplies a major part of the logistics, such a move would harm it too.

The US has suspended aid to Islamabad for similar reasons earlier too, but such action hasn't borne fruit.

What does Pakistan have to say about US' move?

Contrary to US' allegations, Pakistan insists it has paid the heaviest price in the anti-terror fight, sacrificing lives and resources. It expressed "deep disappointment" with the US' statements. According to Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the US is behaving neither like a friend nor foe.


What could it mean for India and others?

Analysts say US' stricter stance towards Pakistan might push it closer to China and Russia, its adversaries.

It also might lead to deteriorating ties with India; Foreign Minister Asif said US has been "talking in the language of India".

Importantly, it might change dynamics in the South Asian region, even as India emerges as a major power.

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