Pakistan has declared an end to its alliance with the United States following the Trump administration’s withholding of security-related aid to Islamabad over charges that the country is harboring militants, a sign of further deteriorating relations with the U.S.’s longtime counterterrorism partner.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, the tense situation could affect U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan, where American coalition troops rely on Pakistani air and ground routes to move personnel and supplies.
However, Pakistan has been accused by officials in Washington and Kabul of playing both sides in Afghanistan given the country’s connection to the Taliban’s Haqqani network, which is responsible for several major attacks on cities in Afghanistan.
Tensions escalated to a high on Thursday when the Trump administration announced the suspension of up to $2 billion in U.S. aid. The declaration followed President Donald Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet in which he claimed that Pakistan has given the United States “nothing but lies and deceit” and provided “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”
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, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
Experts in the region are questioning whether the United States can penalize Pakistan without punishing itself and vice versa.
“The fact that we’ve been getting a raw deal is very plain to see,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“But through two administrations, the Bush administration and the Obama administrations, we haven’t really had a solution to the complex game that Pakistan has been playing that’s very harmful to U.S. interests,” Gartenstein-Ross said.
Since 2002, Washington has sent more than $33 billion in assistance to Islamabad, but the amount of aid provided by the U.S. has declined over time as Pakistan has aligned itself with regional partners such as Iran and China.
According to a Friday report in The Washington Post, the amount of aid to Pakistan suspended by the Trump administration totals approximately $2 billion and includes $900 million earmarked to reimburse Pakistan for their support of the U.S. coalition in Afghanistan. The goal of the administration is to compel Pakistan to suppress the Taliban and affiliated militants that have been allowed safe haven in Pakistan for over a decade.