What cut? US continues to fund Pakistan military
By Rizwan Khatik - Wed Aug 17, 5:26 am
NEW DELHI: Despite the US declaring a cut in funding to Pakistan, the Obama administration has asked for an additional $1.5 billion in “coalition support funds” for the 2012 financial year. Pakistanhas in the past received over 75% of these additional funds which are technically meant for all of US’ allies.
According to US sources, Congress appropriated $1.6 billion for FY2011 and the Obama administration requested $1.75 billion for FY2012, in additional CSF for all its coalition partners.
In July, the US suspended $440 million from Pakistan’s counter-insurgency fund after Pakistan expelled a large number of US military trainers. This amount was deducted from $800 million planned payout for counter-insurgency.
According to fresh figures, the US has been reducing security-related aid to Pakistan from $2.7 billion in 2010 to $1.3 billion in 2011, though it’s projected to go up to $1.6 billion in 2012.
‘The Wall Street Journal’ reported that the US had started conditioning aid to Pakistan in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad on May 2. The US, according to the report, will be weighing further assistance to Pakistan against four benchmarks or “baskets”. “The four baskets are: Pakistani cooperation in exploiting the bin Laden compound; Pakistani cooperation with the war in Afghanistan; Pakistani cooperation with the US in conducting joint counter-terrorism operations; and cooperation in improving the overall tone in bilateral relations. Officials said the details of those baskets were classified.”
Already there is dissonance between Washington and Islamabad over the suspicion that Pakistan may have given the Chinese access to the tail of the crashed helicopter in the Abbottabad compound. Reacting to the allegation, Pakistan this week denied giving China access, but there appear to be few takers for that explanation in Washington.
On Monday, US State Department spokesperson said, “While our civilian assistance continues unchanged, on the security side, on the military side, we have had to make some changes based on cooperation. We need to have the appropriate military personnel in. If all the training assistance is going forward, we have to have the trainers there.”
US defence officials took a harder stand, placing responsibility for the cuts at Islamabad’s doorstep. Talking to journalists, they said, “A series of events in recent months have affected our bilateral relations with Pakistan and, as a result, the Pakistan Army has requested a ‘significant cutback’ of US military trainers and has limited our ability to obtain visas.”
US officials added, “We take a very clear-eyed approach to our relationship with Pakistan – recognizing both the importance of our long-term relationship and the need for near-term action on key issues. The decisions regarding our important relationship with Pakistan are not made by looking at colours on a chart.”
NATO supply trucks have since been burnt in northwestern Pakistan. Pakistan media is also reporting that Pakistan might tax NATO trucks at toll plazas as a means of extracting revenue.
Indian analysts say Pakistan is likely to want to remind the US of its importance as a transit point to Afghanistan in retaliation for the US cutting funds. Over the past few years, the US has moved almost 20% of its supplies out of the Pakistan route and is using a northern route through Russiaand Central Asian states. But Pakistan continues to provide the bulk of transit for NATO supplies in Afghanistan.