As with all things to do with the Trump establishment, one had to sit back and wait to see if the hostilities which existed in talk would materialise into reality. However, now United States is starting to walk the walk, to match its talk. The Trump administration may withhold $255 million from a fund meant for providing military training and equipment to Pakistan, adding to already existing cuts on reimbursements.

Pakistan and United States’ relations have been chilly since August, when Trump condemned Islamabad for “hosting safe havens” for terrorists. Since then, it has been constant back and forth passive-aggressive or lukewarm statements, visits and reports between the two countries, indicating worsening relations. However, up till now, it was just hostile statements; United States’ new move is a material one, which actively impacts Pakistan.

As reported by the New York Times, the withholding of these cuts are being considered by the Trump administration because of what it feels is Islamabad’s ‘non-serious attitude’ in helping counter terrorism in Afghanistan. The important word here is ‘considered’. Talk of these cuts is a deliberate measure to test if Pakistan is willing to concede to US’s demands, which in this situation, are for Pakistan to reconsider its “repeated refusal” to grant the United States access to a Haqqani network operative, who was allegedly captured by Pakistani forces during an October raid to free a Canadian-American family. This is tactic to pressure the Pakistani government, as well as assess Pakistan’s future commitment to following US’s new policy.

If Pakistan is withholding handing over terrorists, then it is at fault; however, taking in consideration the tense situation brought about due to the US’s hostility, most probably, Pakistan does not want to initiate talk at negotiating table, with the handing over of the operative, as it would significantly weaken the case. To withhold reimbursements, without deliberating Pakistan’s considerations, would be unfair on part of USA.

It is hoped that these technicalities between the two countries will be sorted out quickly without exacerbating the already hostile situation. One thing to be remembered is that this is not the first time that cuts in reimbursements are being made; the US introduced cuts in reimbursements to Pakistan in 2015. This, coupled with the fact that Pakistan is now growing more reliance on China, indicates that Pakistan is no longer as dependent on US aid as it was, and thus, won’t be pressured as easily.