US-Pakistani Relations Head South: Pentagon Cancels Military Aid to Islamabad

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Written by Arkady Savitsky; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

The US Defense Department has made a final decision to cancel $300 million (the Coalition Support Funds) in aid to Pakistan. The official reason is Islamabad’s failure to take decisive action against the militants who are waging war in Afghanistan: the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban. The move is subject to approval by Congress. It was announced mere days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Pakistan to meet Imran Khan, the country’s new prime minister. It also took place right on the heels of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s visit to Pakistan, where the leadership expressed support for Iran and the nuclear deal the US abandoned. One is reminded of President Trump’s Aug. 7 tweet warning that “[a]nyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”

US-Pakistani Relations Head South: Pentagon Cancels Military Aid to Islamabad

(U.S. Air Force photo/Lawrence Crespo)

The announced decision is part of a broader suspension that was proclaimed at the beginning of the year. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit,”President Trump tweeted on January 1, 2018. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” The statement was followed by announcement that Secretary Jim Mattis was authorized to grant $300 million in CSF funds over the summer if he saw a change of attitude in Islamabad. He didn’t.

The US has started to suspend its training and educational programs for Pakistani officers. No funds have been provided for the coming academic year. US military institutions, including the National Defense University in Washington DC, the US Army’s War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the US Naval War College, the Naval Staff College, and other courses they offered, including cybersecurity studies, eliminated the 66 slots they had reserved for cadets from Pakistan. It’s rather symbolic that Moscow and Islamabad signed an agreement on August 7 to train Pakistani military personnel in Russia.

With that country’s foreign-exchange reserves plummeting, PM Imran Khan will have to decide whether his government will seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where the United States controls more votes than any other member. The alternative would be to turn to China, Russia, and other friendly nations. After the victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in the 2018 general elections, China agreed to grant a $2 billion loan to Islamabad. On July 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that any potential IMF bailout for Pakistan’s new government must not include funds to pay off the country’s Chinese lenders. Pakistan is pinning its hopes on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Russia and Pakistan marked the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations on May 1, 2018. That relationship has seen its ups and downs, but today it has risen to a new historic high.

Moscow and Islamabad see eye-to-eye on the prospects for ending the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has endorsed the Russian-brokered peace talks that exclude the United States but include the Taliban. Pakistan strongly supports Russia’s Syria policy. Islamabad’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) opens up new prospects for cooperation. Russian President Vladimir Putin has put forward a proposal to create a more extensive Eurasian partnership based on the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which would involve China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and those from the Community of Independent States (CIS) that are willing to join. Islamabad is also interested in signing a free-trade agreement with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

Pakistan has shown its interest in buying military hardware from Russia, has participated in Russian war games, and has also attended Army exhibitions. In September 2016, Russia and Pakistan held their first-ever joint military exercise. It’s been held yearly ever since. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Javed Bajwa paid his first visit to Russia in April of this year. In late July, the two countries signed a naval cooperation agreement during the visit of Pakistan’s Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat to Russia. The Pakistani military plans to purchase Su-35 fighter jets and T-90 tanks from Russia.

Russia is involved in many economic projects, such as the Karachi Steel Mill and Gudhu Power Plants. In 2015, Russia and Pakistan signed a contract to build a 1,100-kilometer gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore (the North-South pipeline) with a capacity of 12.4 billion cubic meters per annum — the largest economic deal ($1.7 billion) between the two countries since the USSR built the Pakistan Steel Mills in the 1970s. Delayed several times because of tariff disputes, it will be set in motion this year by a Russian company called RT – Global Resource.

Pakistan has already invited the Russian Federation to join the $1.16 billion Central Asia-South Asia power project or CASA-1000, which will allow for the export of surplus hydroelectricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 2017, Pakistan’s government gave the go-ahead for the initiation of an agreement with Russia to construct a 600MW Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) power plant in Jamshoro, Sindh.

US-Pakistani relations are evidently at a low ebb but every coin has two sides. This is prompting Islamabad to diversify its foreign relationships. There are other partners with a lot to offer that could make that country stronger and much less vulnerable to outside pressure.

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  • Feudalism Victory

    The spying probably doesnt help either.

  • Tommy Jensen

    The good blue eyed American people gave in naivity $33 billion dollares to Pakistanis, who right under our nose were feeding Osama Bin Laden, investing in opium fields in Afghanistan, and had secret talks with the Russians giving secrets about our military.

    But now we finally found out about it and therefore it is going to stop. You Pakistanis can fool us Americans once but you cant fool us all the time!!

  • Brother Ma

    Haha. Perfect Storm. Tge US is getting the xold ahoulder feom everyone.

    Isn’t it humiliating for a Prime Minister or President to meet with a lowly sec of State. Surely Khan should receive only POTUS not Pompeo! This is not protocol?

    • John Whitehot

      this is bs, head of state to head of state meetings are a kind of exceptional interactions, but normally relations among countries are maintained throughout the foreign ministry.

      The foreign ministry (or sec. of state in case of the US) is the highest ranking diplomat, when he (she) visits another country it’s practically and legally the same thing as the PM (or president, in case of the US) would be visiting.

      perhaps reading two or three lines about international law and relations wouldn’t hurt.

      • Brother Ma

        I remain unconvinced that you are right. I asked what is normal in everyday affairs NOT what is normal with Americans. My belief -after watching news most of my life- is that in MOST countries Foreign Ministers visit and meet with foreign ministers and Heads of State visit Heads of State.

        Anyone else know something?

        • John Whitehot

          omg, omg.

          nevermind.

  • as

    It is NOT MILITARY AID. It was reimbursement for the Pakistani effort and losses for committing towards US led war on terror. They’ve let the US says whatever for their public consumption because they believe their need was mutual and the US would pay them back anyway. They were wrong. Especially the military men that pocket these REIMBURSEMENT MONEY.
    The US no longer sane to think that there would be no equally negative reaction towards their shit.

  • Davki

    “Heading south” is such a stupid and myopic expression. At least for everybody on the Northern Hemisphere, south should or indeed is up… at least during the day; after all, that’s where the sun culminates.

    • zman

      Isn’t this silly nit-picking which has zero to do with the substance of the article?

  • Sinbad2

    Perhaps Pakistan could increase the charges it levies on the US to transit weapons to the US invasion force in Afghanistan?

    • as

      I think they should ban them the pass altogether.

      • Sinbad2

        Agreed, but Pakistan is a poor country, and the US would starve them to death.

  • Rob

    Pakistani previous rulers had needed US aid for passing luxury lives. The current ruler will not take the US aid because this government is not made in Washington.

    The previous governments took blood money from US to gave transit route to foreign forces to invade Afghanistan which was a very big mistake. In destruction of Afghanistan the Pakistan previous rulers played a key role because these rulers were imposed by Washington on Pakistan.

    The current government is passing very simple lives.

  • zman

    Trumps little rant at the beginning of this article is a perfect example of the big lie and duplicitous conniving of the US regime. Continuing the Bin Laden ruse, mentioning of the CIA controlled ISIs complicity in the fake Bin Laden ruse as support for AQ, used to keep this phony ass war going. All for the heroin crop, apparently…well, that and trying to block Russian influence, as well as keeping a military force on Russias southern doorstep(the real reason we’re there). It truly amazes how these successive regimes continue spewing the same BS to continue the same plan, regardless of who is squatting in the WH. Gotta keep them Russkies from building a pipeline yet. Now we’re moving IS over there to continue the facade. Khan will be wise to purge the ISI of CIA influence, if he can. Pakistan needs to get the US monkey off it’s back.

  • Murf

    The US is picking up India as a regional partner.
    Russia can have Pakistan.
    Best of luck with them.