The US has been fierce in cutting aid to other countries, contrary to its past policies of expanding programmes to unstable regions. Pulling back further from the $500 million in aid Washington cancelled earlier, another $300 million are being cancelled. Islamabad says that amount is money to which Pakistan already has a claim. Because of contradictory statements, several nuances need to be examined.
The Trump administration has been on an aid-cutting spree to keep a larger share of the pie — its own pie — for itself. The administration’s politics have been angry and reactionary; Pakistan need not entangle itself in a verbal spat with the Twitter star. Although Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi angrily responded the funds are overdue for use of Pakistan’s resources vis-à-vis the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), it may have been more prudent to remain mum on the topic until the September 5 meeting with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. Mr Qureshi’s statement reverberates as somewhat haughty and emphasises the PTI’s new policy of growing the Pakistan-US relationship based on ‘mutual respect and benefit’, despite their markedly different commands as world powers.
On America’s argument that Pakistan has not worked proactively to oust militants, namely, the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban, one may argue that the US has been paranoid for the last two decades with their presence in Afghanistan and allegedly in Pakistan. The US is not incorrect to work for regional stability however, as that is critical for Afghanistan and Pakistan to flourish (even though America’s intentions are doubted by many). Agreeably, the Pakistani people would support that past governments have been deceitful with funds and a true assessment of how to budget its funds and stand on its own feet can be made if all aid is cut, which would be tumultuous and challenging. Nonetheless, rightfully owed money should be paid out if that is what was earlier decided on. The most imperative advice for the upcoming Pompeo meeting is that clear communication will need to be practised by both sides.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2018.