The last calendar year was by far the most tumultuous in a decade of tense and mistrustful relations between Pakistan and the United States. It began with CIA contractor Raymond Davis shooting and killing two Pakistanis in broad daylight in Lahore, then only worsened in May when Osama bin Laden was found and killed in a US raid at a compound near the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad (an episode that severely angered Pakistanis and embarrassed the Army, which was domestically seen as unable to secure the homeland against foreign intrusion and internationally suspected of providing refuge to America’s worst enemy). Tensions escalated further as the US began pressuring Pakistan to attack the Haqqani Network (HN), a Taliban group with safe havens in North Waziristan. Pakistan refused, and crisis hit when the HN launched a twenty-two hour assault on the US Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul. An infuriated Admiral Mike Mullen, outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lashed out against Pakistan, saying the HN was a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Weeks of diplomatic efforts finally thawed relations, but just as the situation stabilized, a NATO attack on a Pakistani checkpoint in Salala in late November threw the relationship into a tailspin. Twenty-four Pakistani soldiers died in the two-hour assault. Pakistan was furious, immediately suspending NATO supply lines and boycotting the Bonn conference on Afghanistan held in early December.
The crises of 2011 prompted debates in both countries over how to move forward. In Washington, several administration officials and members of Congress have argued for sidelining Pakistan and giving India a larger stake in Afghanistan. Others insist that it is important to tread carefully and that Pakistan cannot just be dumped. In Pakistan, many are arguing for complete disengagement while others are pushing for new rules of engagement.
There are two fundamental problems undergirding US-Pakistan troubles. First, instead of a broad partnership that includes trade and cultural linkages, the two countries have a one-dimensional transactional relationship centered along security concerns, i.e., the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In a way, General Jehangir Karamat, Pakistan’s retired Army chief and ambassador to the US, underscored this point, saying that, in his assessment, “US-Pakistan relations were at their worst because relations between the Pentagon and the Pakistan Army were unstable.” US-Pakistan relations are further complicated because of clashing security interests, especially vis-à-vis the Afghan Taliban.
The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan’s Past, Pakistan’s Future
Apoorva Shah | essay
To those familiar with Pakistan’s history and politics, it's little surprise that Osama bin Laden turned up there. As more than half a century of problems show, the country faces a deep identity crisis it must soon address if it hopes to survive.
These two problems will not yield to quick diplomatic fixes. Barring a fundamental re-thinking, Washington and Islamabad should get used to making the best of an ambiguous alliance, and one that, going forward, will be limited, transactional, and security-centered, featuring competition over the endgame in Afghanistan, cooperation in the fight against al-Qaeda, and a trimmed-down and conditional aid structure.
The main source of US-Pakistan tensions has been the war in Afghanistan, and recent scuffles are linked to the shifting American strategy there. In 2009, the Obama administration set a goal of reversing the momentum of the Taliban by carrying out counterinsurgency operations in southern Afghanistan. The main objective was not to defeat the Taliban, but to create a situation that could allow for a face-saving withdrawal. The 2009 troop surge was aimed at gaining control in major cities and roadways and imposing costs on the Taliban that would force them to the negotiating table. These objectives would be bolstered by the parallel Afghan-led national reconciliation program announced in January 2010, two months after the November surge. The US publicly supported the process and even established a special fund of $1.5 billion to provide monetary incentives to Taliban fighters.
However, Pakistan’s role was crucial in the success of this program. While NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) targeted the Taliban in Afghanistan, Pakistan was supposed to launch an operation against the group’s bases in North Waziristan. It was to then follow this with political pressure that would force the Taliban to negotiate with the US and the Karzai government. Pakistan, whose security establishment has continued to provide refuge to the Afghan Taliban over the past decade, refused to comply. Leaders of all three major Taliban factions live in Pakistan, with a large part of the leadership of Mullah Omar’s Quetta Shura having relocated to Karachi. According to a study published by the London School of Economics, ISI representatives sit in on the meetings and decisionmaking of the Taliban’s major councils. Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid has written that members of the Taliban even travel abroad on Pakistani passports.
That Pakistan would support a Taliban insurgency should be hardly surprising. First, Pakistan sees the Taliban as the group in Afghanistan that is the least averse to its interests and most capable of blocking increased influence by India, which Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment fears might pick up the pieces in Kabul following a US withdrawal. It is this strategic calculation, more than anything else, that has prevented Pakistan from cutting the Taliban loose, and it was disastrously naive for US policymakers to think that they could buy off such a deeply held security obsession for temporary offerings of $1.3 billion a year in aid.
It is also true that deviousness in this situation has not been a Pakistani monopoly. While it has been insisting that Islamabad press on with attacks against the Taliban over the past year, the US has held secret meetings with Taliban representatives in Germany and Doha, Qatar—and kept Pakistan out of those talks. This only increased Pakistani insecurity and reinforced the idea that Washington will ignore its interests in the Afghan endgame.
The US goal in Afghanistan now is to reach a negotiated settlement that allows it to withdraw most forces, leaving a few thousand behind on bases in the north and west to protect the government in Kabul and carry out limited counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda and other groups that threaten the government or US interests. A Time magazine blogger captured the new strategy poignantly, saying, “Counter-insurgency is so 2007. . . . All the cool kids are into counter-terrorism now.” Moreover, the US and Taliban are also moving toward more serious negotiations. Some initial confidence-building measures such as the opening of a Taliban political office in Doha and the release of Taliban prisoners from Guantánamo are being undertaken.
Prospects of peace, however, cause disunity as much as prospects of war. Pakistan is already suspicious of the Qatar initiative because the US has kept it (and Afghanistan) out of the dialogue. It also won’t hesitate to exercise its influence over members of the Taliban leadership in exile. It has jailed several members of the group and is keeping others under house arrest and will undoubtedly seek several preconditions and concessions before it releases them to participate in the reconciliation.
It is also true that while negotiations shimmer, mirage-like, on the horizon, the Taliban has continued to systematically assassinate people in Karzai’s government to weaken the regime, and there is no guarantee that they will cease such attacks between now and 2014. Any future Taliban attack threatens to again raise the heat between America and Pakistan.
Finally, the negotiations themselves will prove a tough endeavor. During the bargaining process, the United States’ rational goal will be to concede as little as possible in terms of power and control to the Taliban and other Pashtun groups being supported by Pakistan, while Pakistan’s goal will be to draw away as much power as possible from the US and its Afghan allies, who are mainly composed of ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras and belong to the group formerly called the Northern Alliance. Moreover, Pakistan, like other countries in the region, would not want a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan and will also make that an issue that will continue to complicate the tug-of-war with the US over ultimate outcomes in Afghanistan.
While the US seeks a political settlement with the Taliban in Afghanistan, its policy against al-Qaeda is to “disrupt, defeat, and dismantle” the organization and prevent its return to Afghanistan or Pakistan. The war against al-Qaeda is an area in which the US and Pakistan have cooperated in the past and will continue to cooperate in the future. Since 2002, Pakistan has been steadily attacking al-Qaeda in the tribal areas and arresting its operatives in Pakistani cities. Several members of al-Qaeda, including senior member Younis al-Mauritani, were arrested in Pakistan in 2011.
The war against al-Qaeda, however, raises the key issue of drone strikes. Since 2004, the CIA has been conducting a drone campaign inside Pakistan that has eliminated hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters and their local allies. Last year alone, at least three top al-Qaeda operatives, including military chief Ilyas Kashmiri, were killed through drone strikes.
The drone program has, however, been an issue of contention for two reasons. First, these strikes are unpopular with the Pakistani public because of the civilians who perish in the collateral damage. A 2011 Pew survey found that sixty-one percent of Pakistanis disagreed that missile strikes were necessary and eighty-nine percent said strikes kill too many civilians. A survey carried out within the tribal areas by the New America Foundation found that seventy-six percent opposed US missile strikes and forty-eight percent said they kill civilians rather than militants.
While Pakistan’s official policy has been to condemn drone strikes, the military and the civilian government have supported them behind the scenes. In one cable released by WikiLeaks, Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani was quoted as saying, “I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.” General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, the powerful head of the Pakistani military, was reported to have even requested more drone support in South Waziristan. Moreover, these strikes have occurred with intelligence sharing between the ISI and CIA, with the human intelligence that is required to conduct the strikes coming from Pakistan. Finally, until recently, the drones often flew from Pakistan’s Shamsi Airfield.
But a shift in policy has now taken place with the forced vacation of the Shamsi air base and the Pakistani Parliament’s recommendation that “no unauthorized incursions into Pakistan’s airspace” occur. Based on Pakistan’s new policy, drones can no longer fly out of Pakistani bases and Pakistan itself should have an increased role in the decisionmaking over the strikes. According to Zafar Hilaly, a retired Pakistani diplomat, “due to the indiscriminate and hugely counterproductive attacks of recent years, Pakistan wants to limit their number and also be informed of the strikes and the targets prior to their occurrence.”
Despite these shifts, however, the drone program will continue to be an area of cooperation between the two countries. This point was clearly illustrated through the two strikes that took place on January 10th and 12th of this year. The strikes killed Aslam Awan, a senior al-Qaeda aide, and also allegedly targeted Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of the Movement of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), an al-Qaeda allied group. Several more strikes have taken place since, and despite tensions over the Salala incident no sustained opposition has been voiced from Pakistani officials, evidencing continued cooperation in the drone program and the fight against al-Qaeda.
US aid to Pakistan, a third major issue between the two counties, has become contentious as relations have deteriorated and American policymakers and elected officials have often charged that Pakistan has been given more than $20 billion in recent years in effect to bite the hand that was feeding it. But this is an issue, from Islamabad’s point of view anyhow, that is not as simple as it appears. First, in terms of the breakdown of US financial transfers to Pakistan, based on figures compiled by the Congressional Research Service, from 2002 to 2011 Pakistan is supposed to have received approximately $5.7 billion in security aid, $7.47 billion in economic aid, and $8.9 billion in Coalition Support Fund transfers. Thus, out of $22 billion, US aid to Pakistan has totaled approximately $13.2 billion in ten years. The remaining $8.9 billion, or forty percent of the total, has actually been reimbursements to Pakistan for the costs it has incurred in fighting al-Qaeda and its allies, and not aid.
Second, aid disbursement has been chaotic. Many times payments have been delayed, millions have often remained stuck in the pipeline, such as money from the Kerry-Lugar bill, and Pakistan has been owed money from previous fiscal years.
Finally, US aid has not made enough of an impact on Pakistani civilians to provoke any significant gratitude. Most do not see the benefit of civilian aid, much of which goes to foreign contractors, or is distributed by the government to its cronies and supporters. Moreover, some Pakistanis see US aid as a way to force Pakistan to fight America’s wars. In the absence of tangible benefits and in the face of war wariness, many average Pakistanis are now said to favor the end of American aid so Washington loses the power to compel Pakistan to agree with its objectives.
In the aftermath of the bin Laden raid, and because of congressional desire to cut expenditures, the US-Pakistan aid relationship has changed in the last year. For example, $700 million of military aid was frozen in July 2011, when Pakistan expelled American military trainers. Congress has also made economic and security aid conditional upon Pakistan fighting militants. Although the Obama administration was influential in tripling non-military aid to Pakistan through the Kerry-Lugar bill, experts are predicting a future shrinking of economic assistance as well. Currently there is a bill in the House of Representatives titled the Pakistan Accountability Act, which seeks to cut all aid to Pakistan, except for money for the protection of nuclear weapons. The bill has yet to be voted on, but it foreshadows where the aid relationship is headed. It is quite possible that, over the next few years, US aid to Pakistan will become minimal, except for funds for protection of nuclear weapons.
Pakistan is often described in Washington as “double-dealing” and “duplicitous.” Pakistani analysts describe their country’s relationship with the US to me as “unequal” and “humiliating.” Najam Rafique, a US expert at the Institute of Strategic Studies, in Islamabad, said, “Pakistan has been treated with contempt by the US; it’s been mistreated and ordered around.” Sadly enough, both characterizations are accurate. After 9/11, the US essentially coerced Pakistan to join the Global War on Terror and, since then, often forced it to act against its own perceived interests. Pakistan, on the other hand, accepted Washington’s monetary incentives but undermined the US effort by providing safe havens to its enemies.
The lack of a broad partnership between America and Pakistan prevented the building of mutual trust or the alignment of interests. Instead, the two countries settled for a one-dimensional, transactional relationship centered along security concerns. What was missing was a synchronicity between the two countries’ security calculus for the “AfPak” region. Nor is there much evidence that this state of affairs will change, a point painfully obvious to foreign affairs experts in the US and Pakistan alike. Bruce O. Riedel, a former CIA officer who authored the Obama administration’s 2009 policy review for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was recently quoted in the New York Times Magazine as saying, “I can see how this gets worse . . . And I can see how this gets catastrophically worse. . . . I don’t see how it gets a whole lot better.” Similarly, Zafar Hilaly, a retired Pakistani diplomat, recently said to me, “This relationship is not headed anywhere—our ways part, our paths are divergent.”
While disengagement is not an option—the continuation of relations today despite the horrors of 2011 illustrates this point—limited collaboration is the best that can be expected. Even as both countries cooperate to eliminate al-Qaeda, their positions in the Afghan endgame will be competitive. Pakistan will seek concessions before it allows the Afghan Taliban to fully participate in negotiations. Moreover, it will seek greater influence for its allies in a future Afghan government, while the US will push to secure the power of its Afghan allies. Finally, military and economic aid to Pakistan will be conditional and results-oriented.
It is important to point out that although such a relationship can accomplish short-term objectives, it cannot tackle mid-to-long-term challenges. That is why there is a crucial need for Washington to vigorously rethink relations with Pakistan. US regional interests and Pakistan’s geopolitical importance warrant a pragmatic, complex, and dynamic Pakistan policy. The US plans to maintain sizable bases and a military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014. It also has interests in Central Asia because of the region’s vast reserves of oil and natural gas. On the other hand, Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state led by corrupt and unaccountable leaders and institutions, with a weak economy, growing population, and a youth bulge. Moreover, it suffers from resource scarcity and mismanagement (especially in water, gas, and electricity) and will need resources to provide postconflict stability in many parts of the country. In the long run, the US can scarcely afford a minimalist relationship with Pakistan. It must engage Pakistan on multiple dimensions and create partnerships to encompass the government, business, and financial sector and civil society. The alternative to such a creative rethinking is not pleasant to contemplate.
Shehzad H. Qazi is a research associate at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
United States of America remains one of the first countries to have established diplomatic ties with Pakistan. Although the relationship dates back to October 20, 1947, it can be extrapolated that the relations have been based strictly on military and economic support.
During the initial years of Pakistan, the country had the options of building allegiance with Soviet Union or United States, however, Pakistan opted for the latter.
Throughout the course of these years many officials from Pakistan such as commander-in-chief Ayub Khan, foreign minister Zafrullah Khan, foreign secretary Ikramullah, finance minister Ghulam Muhammad, defence secretary Sikander Mirza and special envoy Mir Laiq Ali visited US, aiming to receive financial aids from the country.
1954: Pakistan signed Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with the United States in May. Under the agreement, many Pakistani soldiers went to United States for training whereas US also established a Military Assistance Advisory Group (Maag) in Rawalpindi.
1956: President Dwight Eisenhower requested prime minister Suhrawardy to lease Peshawar Air Station to the American Army for keeping an eye on soviet Union and its ballistic missile programme. The request was granted by the prime minister.
Ayub Khan allowed United States to fly spy mission to Soviet Union from Pakistan’s territory and accompanied by his daughter visited United States of America.
United States increased the amount of aid Pakistan was designated to receive from the consortium of Pakistan, half a billion dollars of which were lost in 1965’s Indo-Pakistan war—war staged to cause a rebel in Indian occupied Kashmir. The war also led US to place economical and military embargoes on Pakistan, which resulted in an economic collapse.
1971-1974: Being an important ally for US during the cold war, United States supported Pakistan, despite the arms embargo. Pakistan also assisted president Richard Nixon in making his first visit to Peoples’ Republic of China.
During 1971’s war, US is speculated to have provided Pakistan with arms and military aid, in order to discourage India from penetrating further into the cities of Pakistan because losing Pakistan meant losing an important ally in the soviet war.Moreover, as per the elections result, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was elected as the president of Pakistan and later on became the prime minister in 1974.
Although Bhutto was considered a socialist, he was a close and respected friend of president Nixon, which went in Pakistan’s favour.
1976-1979: President Jimmy Carter, an anti-socialist, won the presidential election of US and announced to seek a ban on nuclear weapons.
Bhutto lost the favours he enjoyed whilst Nixon was US president as Carter did not appreciate his policies and tightened already placed embargoes on Pakistan. However, Bhutto managed to procure items to enhance his atomic bomb project. President Carter and his administration allegedly threatened Bhutto to disrupt the process of atomic proliferation and research to which the latter did not agree, leading to his differences with the Americans.
1979-1988: During Zia ul Haq’s regime, Pakistan and United States enjoyed a warm and congenial relationship, which was primarily based on military ties and advancements. During the decade, US, along with CIA and ISI, launched billions of dollars worth of operations to prevent Soviet forces from further advancing into the region.It is during this period that United States granted billions of dollars to Pakistan in the name of military and economical aid. By the year 1981, Pakistan was discussing a $3.2-billion aid package with United States and in 1987 Pakistan became the second largest recipient of aid after Israel.
However, by the end of General Zia’s regime, Congress adopted Pressler amendment. The amendment banned major military and economical aid to Pakistan unless the state was able to justify and provide sufficient evidence that the funds are not being used for nuclear proliferation.
However it is alleged that although Pakistan disclosed that it could enrich uranium and assemble a nuclear device in 1984 and 1987 respectively, the sanctions were not imposed till 1990.
1990: US, under the Pressler amendment, imposed sanctions on Pakistan, as the country by then had lost its strategic importance in soviet war.
1992: The relations between US and Pakistan plummeted further when US ambassador Nicholas Platt, warned Pakistan of being included into state sponsors of terrorism list, in case it continued to support militants causing trouble in India.
1998: Prime minister Nawaz Sharif conducted nuclear test in Balochistan, in retaliation to similar tests conducted by India, which invited the wrath of Clinton’s administration on both the countries. President Clinton imposed sanctions under Glenn amendment on India as well as Pakistan.
Glenn amendment included suspension of aid, including economic development assistance, credits and credit guarantees by the US government, US bank loans to the governments of India and Pakistan, loans from international financial institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank, and exports of dual-use nuclear or missile items.
However, in July of 1998, US lifted the sanctions on both the countries for purchasing agricultural products from US farmers. Later in the year President Clinton exercised his waiver on lifting restrictions on the activities of US banks in Pakistan.
Initially Pakistan tried to strike a negotiation deal with Taliban and al Qaeda members to handover Osama bin Laden to American authorities. However, when negotiations failed, Pakistan allowed American army to use its military bases for launching attacks on Afghan soil.
However, President Pervez Musharraf confessed that the country had no option but to support United States as it had threatened Pakistan of “bombing it into stone age” if it did not join the fight against al Qaeda.
Simultaneously in 2001, US officials introduced a bill to lift all the sanctions, previously imposed on Pakistan under Pressler and Glenn amendments.
2003: United States officially forgave $1 billion worth of loan it had granted to Pakistan in a goodwill gesture and appreciation for Pakistan’s cooperation.
Since 2004, US army has launched various drone strikes on the north-western side of the country. The drone strikes aim to target Pakistani Taliban and supporters of al Qaeda, however, the strikes have also resulted in latge civilian deaths and caused much opposition from Pakistanis.
2007: A report was issued in which Pakistan was accused of using aid money provided by US to Pakistan for its cooperation on war on terror, for strengthening its defence against India.
2008: The trust, on both sides, has been missing since the war on terror started as US on several occasions has accused Pakistan Army to tip the Taliban and pro-Taliban factions off on US operations.
In the June of 2008, an air strike by the US Army killed 11 paramilitary soldiers of Pakistan Army Frontier Corps, along with eight Taliban. The strike and deaths instigated a fierce reaction from Pakistani command calling the act to have shaken the foundations of mutual trust and cooperation.
The famous Kerry-Lugar Bill, which invited much controversy and criticism, was passed in the October of 2009. The bill entailed the approval of granting $7.5 billion of non-military aid, if the command of the country accepted certain condition. The bill clearly showed US’s distrust in Pakistan’s military command and considered Pakistani Taliban more threatening than Afghan Taliban, amongst many other essential points.
2010: In the beginning of the year, Pakistan Army in a joint operation with US intelligence agencies captured Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a famous Taliban commander, from the tribal belt of Pakistan. The success of the operation was hailed by the United States and Pakistan was praised for its utmost cooperation.
2011: In the beginning of 2011, Raymond Davis, a CIA agent in Pakistan killed two Pakistani men in Lahore, claiming that they came to rob him. Davis was taken into custody for killing civilians, however, American officials claimed that he was entitled to diplomatic immunity and must be released immediately.Raymond Davis was later acquitted of the murder charges and was sent to United States.
In the May of 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed in an operation conducted by US Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
President Barrack Obama claimed that the information pertaining to the operation conducted in Abbottabad was not shared with Pakistan Army. However, ISI claimed that the operation was conducted jointly, a claim which was blatantly denied by President Asif Ali Zardari.
Since the war on terror started in 2001, Pakistan has received an estimated amount of $20 billion from United States; however, in the wake of OBL’s raid US withheld $800 million of aid to Pakistan.
US-Pakistan relations plummeted again when 24 Pakistani soldiers died in an air strike by the US Army. Afghan and US officials claimed that the firing was a result of the attack launched from the Pakistani side of the border, however, the Pakistani military and government denied the claims.
As a result of the attack, Pakistani government ordered US army to evacuate Salala air base which was being used to launch offensive on Taliban and militants. Moreover, the government also halted Nato supplies for United Sates.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that the supplies were blocked without any pressure and will be restored with consensus.
Moreover, Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Pakistan to reopen Nato ground supply routes to Afghanistan. However, Rasmussen also said that Pakistan had not been invited to the crucial 25th Nato summit to be held in May in Chicago.
Simultaneously, US Senator John Kerry, a leading proponent of US aid for Pakistan, said that Pakistan needs to be more cooperative, in order to eliminate Taliban sanctuaries from the country.
However, top Pakistani leaders decided to meet on May 15, in order to discuss ending a blockade of foreign military supply routes into Afghanistan and repairing US relations, signaling a rapprochement ahead of a Nato summit.
Simultaneously, in a sudden shift in events, Nato, on May 15, said that it will invite President Zardari to the alliance’s summit in Chicago, after the country’s foreign minister proposed reopening its Afghan border to Nato military supplies. President Zardari accepted the invitation and decided to attend the summit.However, on May 18, US lawmakers in the House of Representatives debating the National Defence Authorisation Act voted 412-1 for an amendment that could block up to $650 million in proposed payments to Pakistan unless Islamabad lets coalition forces resume shipment of war supplies across its territory.
However, on the same day, four containers laden with supplies for the US Embassy in Kabul crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan via Torkham border post.
A local official while confirming supplies to the US Embassy via Torkham said he could not say when the cargo had been transported.
“Pakistan government has never put restriction on the transportation of supplies for the diplomatic missions, including the American Embassy in Kabul,” a senior official, who was dealing with the matter, said.
“Ban on the transportation of Nato supplies is still intact.”
Simultaneously President Zardari arrived in Washington on May 19 to attend the Nato summit in Chicago. However, both the countries were unable to strike a conclusive deal on the restoration of Nato supplies as the summit ended.In a fresh warning to Pakistan, a Senate panel on May 23 approved a foreign aid budget for next year that slashes US assistance to Islamabad by more than half and threatens further reductions if it fails to open supply routes to Nato forces in Afghanistan.
Sen Patrick Leahy, a Democrat and the chairman of the subcommittee, and the panel’s top Republican, Sen Lindsey Graham, said money for Pakistan was cut 58 per cent as lawmakers questioned Islamabad’s commitment to the fight against terrorism.
Moreover, the Senate Appropriations Committee, on May 24, voted to cut aid to Pakistan by a symbolic $33 million – $1 million for each year of jail time handed to Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who allegedly assisted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in finding Osama bin Laden.
However, the United States agreed to reimburse $1.18 billion or almost 75 per cent of the claims Pakistan has submitted for the expenses incurred in the fight against militants along the Afghan border.
The approval showed that despite increased tensions, the US financial assistance to Pakistan has continued although it is becoming increasingly difficult to get congressional support for helping Pakistan.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, on June 7, said that the United States was running out of patience with Pakistan over safe havens of insurgents who attack US troops across the border in Afghanistan.Panetta spoke after talks with Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak on the latest leg of an Asian tour that has taken him to India, but not Islamabad in a sign of how dire US-Pakistan relations are.
On June 8, US Assistant Defence Secretary Peter Lavoy arrived in Islamabad, in a fresh attempt to bring an end to a six-month blockade on Nato supplies, crossing into Afghanistan.
However, on June 11, the United States withdrew negotiators from Pakistan after talks failed to produce a deal on reopening vital Nato supply routes into Afghanistan. Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, still sounded optimistic and said that the return of an American negotiating team from Islamabad, where it worked with Pakistani counterparts on revival of the Nato supply routes, does not represent an institutional US pullout.
Moreover, Panetta ruled out an apology over an air strike last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and badly set back efforts to improve US-Pakistani ties, saying it was “time to move on.”
Gen John Allen, the top commander of American and Nato forces in Afghanistan, visited Pakistan on Wednesday, amidst heightened tensions between the two countries.The agenda of the talks remained to restore Nato supply routes and cross-border attacks launched on Pakistani soil from Afghanistan.
Pakistan, on July 3, agreed to reopen key supply routes into Afghanistan ending a bitter stand-off after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was sorry for the loss of life in a botched air raid.
A US official said that as part of the deal Washington will release about $1.1 billion to the Pakistani military from a US “coalition support fund” designed to reimburse Pakistan for the cost of counter-insurgency operations.
Moreover, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on July 8 that the United States and Pakistan were putting past tensions behind them to focus on the future, after meeting her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar in Tokyo.
It was the first meeting between Clinton and Khar since the two countries last week struck a deal to re-open supply routes, closed for seven months following a US attack in which 24 Pakistani soldiers died.
President Barack Obama, on July 17, named Richard G Olson to be the US ambassadors to Pakistan, tasking him with shaping highly sensitive relationships after US troops pull out.The US commander in Afghanistan Gen John Allen visited GHQ to hold talks in Pakistan on August 2 for the first time since Islamabad ended a seven-month blockade on Nato supplies destined for the 10-year war effort.
Moreover, Pakistan received $1.1 billion dollars from the United States for its fight against militants, the first installment of its kind since December 2010 on the same day.
The agenda of the meeting was focused on improving security along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman met with Congressman Dan Burton on August 3, a Republican from Indiana, and discussed ways to enhance Pakistan-US relationship.
The United States and Pakistan reached an understanding on joint operations against the Haqqani network on August 5, However a joint decision could not be agreed upon.
The sources said the issue of cross-border attacks, by the Haqqani network into Afghanistan and by TTP into Pakistan, was discussed in a series of meetings between senior US and Pakistani officials during the week.
The US State Department confirmed on August 23 that an American diplomat had a meeting with Pakistani officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad as Pakistan lodged its first formal protest with the United States over drone strikes.