By Maria Amjad
On July 21, the US Defense Secretary James Mattis stated that the Pentagon will not make the remaining military reimbursements to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2016 as he believes that Islamabad had not taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network.
US reimbursement against terrorism
The United States had allotted $900m in military aid to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a US Defence Department programme to reimburse allies who have incurred costs in supporting counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. The country has already received $550 million through this fund; however, after the latest statement from US Defense Department, $50 million will be withheld.
This is not the first time the Pentagon has decided not to make military reimbursements. Last year, the Pentagon withheld $300 million of funds poised to be given to Islamabad for not acting against militants fueling violence in Afghanistan.
When US-Pak relations went sour
Relations between the United States and Pakistan have remained low over the past decade, with US officials vexed by Islamabad’s reluctance to act against the Haqqani network. The relations reached the nadir point after the newly elected President of the United States declared harden his hardened stance towards Pakistan, urging it to crack down on terrorists launching strikes in neighbouring Afghanistan. In the light of Pakistan’s inaction, the Trump administration’s responses could include expanding US drone strikes and eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) ally.
The United States has repeatedly blamed Pakistan for providing ‘safe heaven’ to Haqqani network in North Waziristan. It believes that Pakistan has deliberately not done enough to oust Haqqani network despite the Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, which are meant to disrupt militant sanctuaries from North Waziristan.
Top US officials believe that Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), is using Haqqani network as a “veritable arm” to keep India “off balance” and protect Islamabad’s interests in the war-torn Afghanistan. US Defence Secretary Mattis argues that disruption of the Haqqani leadership, based in Pakistan, is critical to stabilising Afghanistan.
Pakistan has rejected the US claims and has emphasised that it has taken indiscriminate and all out action against terrorists. The Foreign Office of Pakistan has contested the US claim, asserting that most of the militants fled to Afghanistan after Pakistan’s successful Operation Zarb-e-Azab and Operation Radd-ul-Fasadd in the tribal areas.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office has further rebutted the US charges, emphasising that media reports have confirmed that a considerable number of leaders and senior commanders of Haqqani network and other terrorists have been killed in Afghanistan. Regarding Pakistan’s role in the peace-building process in Afghanistan, Islamabad enunciated its desire to see peace and stability in Afghanistan, which it believes is in the interest of Pakistan as well.
Way forward for the US-Pak relations
The United States, by its strict policy towards Pakistan, is trying to motivate Pakistan to detain the Haqqani network and their sanctuaries from North Waziristan. In this endeavour, the blockade of the reimbursement would be quite devastating for the Pakistani military. A decrease in funding would probably translate into major reductions in military assistance and arms sales, which might, in turn, affects its operations against militants.
For Pakistan, it is important to operate on militants without discernment as it will not only reduce terrorism in the country but will also help Pakistan to avoid strict policies from the United States in future.
Featured Image Source: Daily Times | Pakistan
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