After putting Pakistan on notice through a tweet on 1 January, US President Donald Trump’s administration suspended at least $900 million in security assistance to Pakistan, beginning from Friday 5 January, until Pakistan takes action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network militant groups.


A series of articles from our archives give insight into US foreign policy with regards to South Asia and the history of the aid relationship between the US and Pakistan.


1) Did US Aid Act Against the Interests of Both Countries?


S Akbar Zaidi writes about the nature and consequences of US aid to Pakistan in recent years, particularly since 2001. He examines if the US goals and Pakistani objectives are identical, or similar, and who has benefited from this recent aid giving/ receiving relationship.


“First, it is not at all clear to all parties what the objectives and purpose of US aid to Pakistan are. The US believes that this assistance to Pakistan’s military will encourage the army to help in the war on terror in the border regions of Pakistan. There is no real evidence that the Pakistani army is on the same page as the US administration in this regard. ”


“Second, no matter whose war this is – the US’s a global war on terror, or Pakistan’s – no one can deny that the repercussions on Pakistani citizens have been quite catastrophic, resulting in many thousand dead and injured. ”


“Third, in the past decade, it seems that there has been considerable oversight – perhaps even deliberate – in the aid relationship with Pakistan, and protocols and procedures have been ignored and not respected. Also, it seems that some amount of aid given by the US for specific purposes has been used by the Pakistani military for very different purposes.”


“Fourth, since military aid has been twice or three times as large as economic aid, the US might have strengthened the hand of the military in Pakistan’s political economy, sidestepping


the elected civilian government at the expense of strengthening and supporting democratic movements and institutions, having greater trust in the ability of the Pakistani military than in the civilian democratic government.”


“Fifth, direct US economic aid does not have a critical impact on Pakistan’s economy because it is too small, focused on particular areas and regions, and is tied up in issues related to


procedures, protocols and contractors. Economic and financial support from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other multilateral agencies has been far more critical to economic stability in Pakistan. ”


2) How has the Making of US Foreign Policy for South Asia Changed in the 30 years Since the Era of the Cold War?


Lloyd I Rodolph and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph state that the first thing to notice is how much has changed with respect to the context of “governmental pluralism” that conditions the making of US foreign policy for south Asia. In the case of the making of foreign policy, governmental pluralism is organised around the state department’s construction of the geo-strategic world into regional bureaus. They mark the significance of regions in the making of foreign policy.


“For roughly 50 years, the US destabilised the south Asia region by acting as an offshore balancer. Its actions allowed Pakistan to realise its goal of “parity” with its much bigger neighbour and to try to best that neighbour in several wars. With the end of the cold war (1989), the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan (1989) and the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991), little was left to justify the US acting as an offshore balancer in south Asia. By president Clinton’s second term the US saw no need for a special relationship with Pakistan.”


3) Bill Clinton s Moribund South Asia Policy


Harold A Gould analyzes how America’s Cold War South Asian policy stemmed from a morass of international high anxiety and domestic political masochism. Although this paper is written in 1996 and focuses specifically on Bill Clinton’s policy with regards to Pakistan, it traces the history of U.S-Pakistan relations.


History has shown that the decision to promote the building of a Pakistani military machine as a means of deterring communist bloc expansion into the west Asia, south Asia and south-east Asia was a tragic failure. Domestic communism was never a significant threat to either Pakistan, India or indeed any other south Asian state. Regional political stability was not enhanced but exacerbated by the introduction of the cold war into south Asia. American influence and prestige in both major south Asian states was diminished over the long run (and is in danger of declining further) by its dogged adherence to a misguided and unworkable policy). has links to the full articles.

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