A US decision to suspend $800 million in military aid to Pakistan is more likely to drive the wedge between the troubled allies deeper than compel the military to fight harder against Taliban and al Qaeda linked militants on its territory, White House chief of staff William Daley confirmed on Sunday. The report said that Obama administration had held off a third of $2 billion in security aid in a show of displeasure over Pakistan’s cutback of US military trainers, limits on visa for US personnel and other bilateral irritants.
However, more US financial penalties could take a toll on Pakistan’s fragile economy. On Monday, putting up a brave front Pakistan army claimed it would continue to conduct operations without American assistance. “We have no comments on the American move,” said a spokesman for the Pakistani military, adding, “The Pakistan Army, in the past as well as at present, has conducted successful military operations using its own resources without any external support whatsoever.”
The United States provides about $300 million a year to reimburse Pakistan for deploying more than 100,000 troops along the Afghan border to combat militant groups, a leading daily said. Other funding covers training and military hardware. It would be damaging to the relationship if Washington held back on these funds, said Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, retired major-general Mehmood Durrani said, reflecting a widespread view in Pakistan that it was fighting America’s war, and Washington must pay for it. “This is something that they have to pay, and if they don’t then it’s breach of agreement and breach of trust.”
But while the military could weather the storm, Pakistan’s economy might be hit if Washington holds back on what is called the Coalition Support Fund.
The CSF is not aid, but reimbursements for money already spent on military operations, and it goes into the general treasury. So holding back these payments won’t hurt the military, but would strain the country’s finances further at a time when it is battling a deep downturn.