SOONER or later, the dispute between the United States and Pakistan will be patched up and the Americans will resume the aid that has been suspended over accusations of “duplicitous” Pakistani policy.
US president Donald Trump has never been to Pakistan nor does he know much about the country, so he must have relied on administration officials who believe the Pakistani government was giving succour to the Taliban and other terrorist groups while accepting some $33 billion (£24bn) in aid since 9/11.
“Mr Trump is right in one respect,” the Financial Times has commented. “America is not getting value for the money it provides to a country whose military and intelligence services, the ISI, have manipulated religious fanatics partly to keep a hand in the great game playing out next door in Afghanistan… The case for reducing aid to Pakistan has long been clear. Ideally, it will prompt Islamabad to earn back the US assistance it has lost. But Pakistan’s internal weaknesses, the terrorists it harbours and its nuclear arsenal make for an explosive mix.”
In the past, former British prime minister David Cameron has also said Islamabad could no longer “look both ways” by tolerating terrorism while demanding respect as a democracy.
The Pakistani government has indignantly rejected the US allegations while on the streets, the American flag has been burnt.
All this is predictable but Pakistan is today where it is partly because past US administrations have propped up the military for strategic reasons and not encouraged political institutions to grow. For the people of Pakistan to get out of the addiction of aid dependency may be a blessing in disguise. The fundamental problem remains the same, though – the military won’t give up its profitable control of the state.
India would do well to keep out of the dip in US-Pakistan relations.