US cannot intimidate Imran Khan

The US decision to cut aid to Pakistan may be counterproductive as country is in rebuilding mode

Dubai


The US decision to cut $300 million aid to Pakistan will likely lead to another blow to the deteriorating diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Surprisingly, the bad news for Pakistan came at a time when the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting Pakistan to start fresh talks with the new government after months of soured relations. It is certainly not a good sign ahead of the top US diplomat’s visit to the country, which has been at the forefront of the US-led war on terrorism.

It is not the first time that the US has suspended aid or military funds to Pakistan but the timing is just not right. Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan has just started to gather the bits and pieces in a bid to improve the economic situation in the country which has accumulated foreign debts of more than $91 billion (Dh334 billion) over the years.

It is still to be seen whether Pompeo will try to bully the Pakistani leadership during his visit. But it will be a mistake if he adopts this policy as the political dynamic has changed in Pakistan as Imran and the military are on one side unlike earlier governments in Pakistan, when it comes to foreign policy. Gone are the days when the US can directly approach the military command in Pakistan without caring for the civilian leadership.

It is time that the US stops its ‘do more’ rhetoric to put Pakistan under pressure and takes trust-building measures.

The payment, which the US is now considering scrapping, is in fact the payment to support coalition fund which was used by the Pakistani armed forces to fight against terrorism. This is actually the payment of expenses incurred by Pakistan during the war against terrorism. Pakistan has already suffered a lot due to the war against terrorism. More than 80,000 lives have been lost in the country for being a frontline ally in this US-led war. Pakistan has also fought fierce campaigns against homegrown militant groups and has lost thousands of lives and spent billions of dollars in its long war on extremism.

Also, the recent decision to stop the military training programme for Pakistan military officers followed by a cut in aid will definitely undermine trust-building measures and will force Pakistan to look to China or Russia for future collaborations. This is one untimely and counterproductive decision for Imran needs support to rebuild the nation and the world should know that he is one of the most committed leaders who cannot be intimidated. US must stand behind Imran in helping him rebuild his nation, as peace in Pakistan can ensure peace in Afghanistan.

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