Where are Pakistan US Relations Headed? An Enemy is Better than a Backstabbing Friend – this definition was given to the United States by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, calling Washington “a disloyal friend”, which has aggravated Pakistan US relations.
In his first tweet of the year 2018, Donald Trump said –
“The United States has given Pakistan more than $ 33 billion completely in vain over the past 15 years,” he wrote. “They did not give us anything but lies and deceit. They provide a safe and safe haven for the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, and almost do not help us. “
On January 4, the US State Department brought in a new turn of events for Pakistan US relations by announcing the freezing of aid to Pakistan. According to Heather Nauert, the representative of the foreign ministry, the money will be frozen until the government of Pakistan begins to actually fight against such terrorist organisations as the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
Although concrete figures were not announced, most experts agree that it is freezing about $ 900 million from the “Coalition Support Fund” (CSF), which is compensation for the fact that Pakistani troops are fighting against terrorists on its territory. For sure, the Pakistanis will not receive the military aid of $ 255 million.
Khawaja Asif on Friday told the WSJ that America made Pakistan a “whipping boy” to hide its own mistakes in Afghanistan. He also hinted that the US actions are likely to negatively affect Pakistan US relations. Pakistan ISI has reportedly stopped sharing intelligence from the border areas with Afghanistan with its allies. Now the Pentagon will have to rely only on aerial reconnaissance, whose capabilities are limited.
Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi responded by saying that Islamabad continues to conduct military operations to force out terrorists from its territory. In the battles with militants and terrorist attacks since 2001, 17 thousand Pakistanis have been killed. Abbasi is sure that Pakistan is not just fighting with terrorists, but is also a world leader in the fight against them and is at the “forefront of the war on terrorism.”
Pakistan US Relations: A Real Backstab
Trump is however not the first of American leaders to try the route of the threat to deal with ‘unreliable’ allies. In 2011, the Barack Obama administration froze the allocation of $ 800 million in economic aid to Pakistan, and in 2016 – another $ 350 million of military aid. According to the calculations of the researchers, the United States provided Pakistan with a total of approximately $ 70 billion over seven decades. Not only did they manage to make a real ally out of it, but also change its behaviour.
Observers believe that the White House will not limit itself to one refusal to help. The next step may be to deprive Pakistan of the status of the main ally of America outside NATO (MNNA), which the country received in 2004 for the assistance provided to the Americans in Afghanistan.
There is a high likelihood of sanctions against Pakistani banks and financial institutions, which, according to Washington, are involved in money laundering. Experts do not exclude the activation of flights of American drones, not only over the tribal territories in the north-west but also with the expansion of the zone of blows deep into the country. The use of drones is one of the most contentious issues in the Pakistan Us relations.
How new Pakistan US Relations impact Future Policies?
The way through Pakistan is the shortest, cheapest and most acceptable way to deliver supplies to Afghanistan. The northern route through Russia, already used during the aggravation of relations with Pakistan, is now closed, of course, because of the bad relations between Moscow and Washington for the Pentagon. Therefore, the closure of Pakistan for cargo convoys for Afghanistan can be a very painful blow for the United States.
There are, of course, two more ways to supply American troops in Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan and Russia. The first – through the Iranian port of Chabahar, where the transport corridor between Iran, India and Afghanistan begins. Delhi, which uses two berths in Chabahar, sent the first cargo of wheat to Afghanistan in October of last year. However, this route, like the Russian one, seems extremely unlikely due to the very bad relations between Washington and Tehran. The Americans will have to seek help from Indian companies which will help deepen relations with India, in which the US is interested as a counterweight to China.
The second route for deliveries of cargo is through an extensive network of supply lines in Central Asia and mainly through Uzbekistan, but here we can also talk about fuel, equipment, products, construction materials, i.e. non-lethal cargoes. As for the lethal cargo and military personnel, they will have to be delivered by air from military bases in the Persian Gulf: Al-Udayd and Al-Sayliya in Qatar, Camp Arifdzhan in Kuwait or the Navy base in Bahrain.
Even taking into account the “double play”, which, according to the White House, Pakistan leads, this country is extremely important for Americans in their war against international terrorism. If you forget logistics, Islamabad can close its air bases for American drones. In reserve, the country also has a serious threat of further rapprochement with the main American adversaries: China and Russia.
China Takes Advantage of the Current Pakistan US Relations
Following the latest aggravation of Pakistan US relations, China will try to fill the vacuum created by the withdrawal of America in Pakistan. It is no coincidence that in a matter of hours after Washington’s decision to freeze the allocation of aid announced by the US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley, Beijing officially defended Pakistan and announced plans to accelerate the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Relations between Pakistan and the PRC have a long history. For several decades, they have remained strategic and trading partners. Wishing to emphasise the strength of relations, in Islamabad and Beijing they are called “all-weather”. Pakistan is important for China as an ally not only against the US but also against India. They use the alliance with China as a counterbalance against the United States and its main enemy, India.
Beijing, unlike Washington, does not fill Islamabad with billions of dollars of aid, but it provides solid economic support in the form of infrastructure and other projects. China has invested about $ 55 billion in the Pakistani economy. Here, however, there is one nuance: if US assistance, albeit irregularly, is provided on a no-cost basis, then Chinese projects drive Islamabad into big debts, which sooner or later have to be returned.
On the other hand, numerous supporters of friendship with Beijing point to a certain ideological similarity between the countries. Unlike Americans, the Chinese do not pay attention to the human rights situation in Pakistan.
Where are the Pakistan US Relations Headed?
Now Washington’s priorities have changed, but not so much as it might seem at first glance: America’s main rival in Asia is China, and the Soviet Union was replaced by Russia. As for Pakistan, they had the idea of fixing the former – to achieve parity with India. Until a simple and effective way of solving these conflicting goals is found, Washington and Islamabad will have to cooperate despite internal contradictions built into their relations. Both the US and Pakistan need a partner to achieve important current goals. Pakistan US relations are now extremely low, if not the lowest, but without Washington, in the opinion of Terry McCarthy, president of the Los Angeles-based World Affairs Council, Islamabad is still indispensable.