Fed up with what it believes is an insufficient response to confronting terrorist networks, the Trump administration announced today that it is suspending nearly all security aid to Pakistan.
The move comes after months of increasingly harsh language directed at Pakistani leaders. Though Pakistan’s lack of progress in eliminating the Haqqani Taliban operating within its borders has been a source of conversation for nearly a decade, the Trump administration in particular has been critical of Pakistan’s apparent reticence in addressing the threat operating within its borders.
Tensions have escalated between the United States and Pakistan since last summer, when Trump accused Pakistan of providing “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror.” The final straw appears to have occurred last October, when Pakistani forces freed a Canadian-American family held captive by militants. During the rescue operation, one of the abductors – a Haqqani militant and a high-value target – was captured, and the United States requested access to interrogate him. Pakistan, however, refused.
Trump’s supporters will likely view this decision as a sign that the president is getting “tough” with America’s allies. And while there is something to be said for demanding that Pakistan shoulder more responsibility in preventing the radicalization and training of would-be terrorists, this decision may ultimately prove short-sighted.
Though Pakistan is nobody’s idea of a perfect ally, the access to intelligence gained by the United States as a result of the partnership is invaluable in identifying and preventing terrorist attacks – particularly those on American soil. Flawed though Pakistan may be as a partner, the argument could be made that the alliance is ultimately to the benefit of the American people.
According to The Week, Pakistan is largely motivated by its competition with India and Afghanistan; by cutting off aid to Pakistan, not only are we potentially alienating one of our few remaining allies in the Middle East, but we also risk Pakistan aligning itself with Russia as a means of self-preservation.
Let’s see how this plays out.
[via New York Times]