Welcome cut

The US House of Representatives’ vote to cut military aid to Pakistan by half reveals the extent to which US-Pakistan relations have deteriorated.

The bill was passed unanimously indicating that US anger with Pakistan spans the political divide. Pakistan’s Janus-faced role in the war against terrorism, its support to terrorists even as it claims to be co-operating in fighting them has prompted many Americans to accuse it of betrayal.

A Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee even likened Pakistan to Benedict Arnold, an American general who defected to the British side during the American War of Independence and is widely looked upon as one of the worst traitors in American history. 

The bill now goes to the US Senate. Pakistan’s diplomats and lobbyists will work hard to ensure the bill’s rejection by the Senate or at least have its provisions diluted. However, commentators are saying that the $650 million cut isn’t enough given the seriousness of Pakistan’s perfidy. Some are suggesting halting all military aid to Pakistan.  


India, which has been warning the US of Pakistan’s weak commitment to fighting terrorism, will feel vindicated. It will welcome the House of Representatives’ vote cutting military aid.

US military aid to Pakistan has never done any good either to Pakistanis or the region but has benefited only the Pakistani generals. Experience since the 1950s shows that US aid to Pakistan has strengthened the military vis-a-vis civilian institutions encouraging it to stage coups. It has prompted the military’s adventurism against India.

Much of the US-supplied military hardware, for instance, was used by the Pakistan military in its wars against India. The US government has been disingenuous in its military aid to Pakistan. It claims that this aid is to strengthen the latter’s capacity to fight terrorism. But Washington provides Pakistan with combat aircraft that is of little use in fighting terrorism and ends up being used against India.


While the cutting down of military aid is welcome, the serious fraying of US-Pakistan relations is worrying.

Whatever little influence the US has had on Pakistan’s generals will reduce. In trying to send out a strong message to Pakistan that its playing both sides in the war on terror is not acceptable to the international community, Washington must not allow broader co-operation to end. While it cuts military aid, it must step up support for education, health and building of civilian institutions.

It should send out a strong message to the Pakistani people that it supports them, not their double-dealing generals.

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