US cuts defense aid to Pakistan but withdraws from ‘Do More’ demand

  • In the latest defence legislation, the US has removed certain conditions - like action against Haqqani network or Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
Pakistan

WASHINGTON – The National Defense Authorisation Act- 2019 (NDAA-19) on Thursday sailed through the United States Congress with significantly reducing defense aid to Pakistan to $150 million per year from the historic level of $750m to $1billion.

Besides the aid about which Pakistan Army has clarified, “We don’t need security aid at the cost of national dignity,” a major development occurred that relaxes the US pressure on Pakistan to take more action against banned outfits, especially Haqqani Network.

In the latest defence legislation, the US has removed certain conditions, including action against Haqqani network or Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

The Washington has been used these funds, in the past, to urge Pakistan to do more against terror organisations. However, the acute reduction in the financial assistance shows the US has no any tool to pressurise Pakistan.

Pakistan has been assured the US since the it launched war in the neigbouring country, Afghanistan, that the country is taking indiscriminate action against all terrorists, besides rejecting the impression of sheltering the militants.

But, the new US administration led by Donald Trump denied to accept the claim and took up a strategy to ram up pressure on Islamabad. On one side, accusing Islamabad of providing safe havens to the terrorists, Trump pushed Pakistan to remove them or push them for peaces talks in order to bring peace in Afghanistan.

‘Put pressure on Pakistan,’ Trump’s new Afghan war strategy unveiled

The NDAA 2019, which was earlier given the green signal by the US House of Representatives, was passed 87 to 10 in the Senate. The Bill has now been sent to the White House for Trump’s assent.

Joshua White, who is a part of former President Barrack Obama’s White House National Security Council team and worked on Pakistan, while talking to the India Express said this year’s defence legislation significantly reduces the amount of security assistance that Pakistan can theoretically receive outside of traditional Foreign Military Financing.

“It makes Pakistan ineligible for Coalition Support Funds (CSF), but adds Pakistan to a list of countries that can receive a related form of assistance designed to help partner nations bolster border security,” White said and observed, “This legislation is a mixed blessing for Pakistan.”

The bill allocates $69 billion in war funding known as overseas contingency operations, authorises an increase of 2.6-percent in salaries of members of the armed forces, and invests major chunk of the amount to strengthen the air and sea fleet and missile defences of the Pentagon.

Amid other key points in the new legislation, the NDAA makes the delivery of  F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey, a NATO ally with increasingly constraint ties with Washington, conditional saying the aircraft will be delivered if Ankara will not buy Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.