Pakistan’s increasingly “close and effective defense ties” with China will allow Islamabad to “fill the gap” arising from the prospect of reduced military aid from the United States, a Pakistani official has said. The Obama administration has suspended some 800 million dollars in military assistance to Pakistan in a show of displeasure over its cutback on US trainers, limits on visas for US personnel and other rubs.
The May 2 secret US military raid in Abbottabad, which killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, had also caused new strains in bilateral ties. The Pakistani official, however, admitted that the tightening of the military aid was expected. “That’s where our long-term relations with China will help to meet this gap,” CBS News quoted the official, as saying.
On the other hand, Western diplomats said that Pakistan’s worsening relations with the US would only cause harm to its interests irrespective of the extent of the support that it receives from China. “The US has a long history of giving economic and military assistance to Pakistan, which by far outpaces China in dollar terms. Worsening ties with the US could push Pakistan towards isolation,” a Western diplomat in Islamabad said, adding, “I don’t think it’s wise for Pakistan to be playing down the importance of the US as a partner, just because there have been some defense deals with China.” The 800 million dollars is about a third of the annual US security aid to Pakistan.