Aid from the US is in a downward spiral, even as US House of Representatives passed a defence bill that pledges USD 900 million in assistance to Pakistan on Friday, down from 1.3 billion last year, and 2 billion before that. The aid, as usual, is tied to action against the Haqqani Network.
The US is clearly frustrated with the lack of action not only with the Haqqani Network, but also over Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad who allegedly orchestrated attacks in India - the country that is actually the unacknowledged problem. Since its inception, Pakistan has allied itself with the US in an effort to bolster its position in the region to become equal to India, and the US has not let it, nor has it helped Pakistan in times of crisis including the three wars with India and the Kashmir dispute. If US expectations were not met after 9/11, Pakistan’s expectations were continually strangled by the US since the 50s.
Going after al Qaeda was fine by Pakistan, but the groups that operate in Pakistan today are too complexly embedded in Pakistan’s security strategy as well as political structures that they cannot be uprooted like the Soviets were from Afghanistan. Every war is different, and so is every society. And while progress is not as breakneck as the US would desire, progress has been made by the Army nonetheless.
Why does Pakistan accept money when it does not intend to meet conditions? Will the Haqqanis be dealt with this time around? It is unlikely. There is a clear divergence of interests- the US wants the Haqqanis gone and Pakistan wants Indian aggression checked- and it is creating frustration and hate in America for its long time ally. Dependence on US aid must be decreased. Aid does not have a causal impact on development and peace in Pakistan and getting aid while not getting the terrorist is only creating a bad image abroad.
Aid to Pakistan is only 2 per cent of our GDP, and our local economy can survive without it. The logistical support to the US in Pakistan is backbreaking and the Coalition Support Fund reimbursements, that is not aid but the US’ tab in Pakistan, and it is unfair for the US to see it as money being wasted on Pakistan.
The solution is not throwing more money at Pakistan, and then threatening suspension of aid. It only perpetuates the “do more” diatribe, and congressmen flippantly call Pakistan dangerous and terrorist and makes one party subservient to another. The solution is for the US to make sure Pakistan is secure from Indian aggression. Just that one diplomatic move will open Pakistan to the US, it will make the people see the US in a new light, and create incentive for Pakistan to dismantle and destroy terrorist outfits.