US May Consider Lifting Aid Suspension from Pakistan
The United States may consider lifting its security aid suspension from Pakistan, as long as Pakistan commits to taking a “decisive and sustained” approach to targeting dangerous groups within its territory, according to a State Department official.
Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said the US has, “shared with Pakistan our South Asia strategy in detail” and has “made expectations clear.”
Sullivan continued by adding that the US “may consider” lifting its aid suspension if it sees evidence of Pakistan making an effort to target the terrorist groups residing in its territory.
Just last month, US President Donald Trump made the decision to suspend $900 million in security aid that would have been provided to Pakistan in order to pressure it into taking action against the Taliban and the Haqqani network militant groups.
Sullivan also made sure to point out that the Trump administration has not yet seen evidence of Pakistan supporting the mission to curb terrorist groups’ influence within its borders.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied all accusations of complacency with terrorist groups. When the aid suspension was first announced, Pakistan urged the US to reconsider, portraying US motives as “shifting goalposts.”
However, despite Pakistan’s insistence that it has indeed contributed to the US-Afghan mission, some members of the US House of Representatives think otherwise.
A bill recently proposed in House of Representatives on Tuesday seeks to end all non-defense aid to Pakistan, investing the money in US-based infrastructure projects instead. A similar bill exists in the US Senate, its idea first proposed by Senator Rand Paul.
The legislation was introduced by South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford and Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie, and under its provisions, the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) would be prohibited from sending American “taxpayer money” to Pakistan.
Proponents of the bill argue that Pakistan is not only complacent in handling terrorist groups, but actively “provides military aid and intelligence” to them. Pakistani officials have denied this claim, saying that the US simply attempts to mask its own failure to limit the spread of the Taliban in Afghanistan by blaming Pakistan.
Pakistan now faces two opposing contingents in the US - those who believe that ending all economic assistance to the nation would help with the mission against the Taliban and those who, like Deputy Secretary Sullivan, believe that the possibility of lifting the aid suspension from Pakistan would provide a further incentive to fight the Taliban.
As the fight to pressure or positively reinforce Pakistan into contributing to the mission against the Taliban continues, we have yet to see how Pakistan will react.