by Sarah Nahrgang
A $1.1 billion aid package for Pakistan was authorized in 2016 by Congress, but in response to the country’s poor approaches to handling terrorism, the Trump administration announced in August of 2017 that it would be temporarily withholding $255 million. If Pakistan agreed to be more aggressive in cracking down on terrorist networks in Afghanistan, they would continue to receive US funding. Despite this, the Pakistani government has taken no such initiative, and the White House has responded accordingly.
On Monday, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council released a statement about the funding:
The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in FY 2016 foreign military financing for Pakistan at this time. The President has made clear that the United States expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil, and that Pakistan’s actions in support of the South Asia strategy will ultimately determine the trajectory of our relationship, including future security assistance.
President Trump also tweeted about the issue on Monday:
The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
In response, Trump was condemned in the media and on Twitter for what Pakistan described as a “completely incomprehensible” comment. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi held a National Security Committee meeting on Tuesday, after which the following statement was released:
Recent statements and articulation by the American leadership were completely incomprehensible as they contradicted facts manifestly, struck with great insensitivity at the trust between two nations built over generations, and negated the decades of sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation.
Activists of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, an umbrella coalition of Pakistani Islamist parties, then organized in protest on Tuesday in Karachi, the capital of the Pakistani province of Sindh. Protesters burnt the American flag and images of President Trump while shouting anti-American slogans, all in response to Trump pursuing his statement made in August to continue withholding funding. This same group, the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, led a similar protest in Karachi on August 25.
The eruption of this outrage over what should be a diplomatic issue does little to help sway the US in funding Islamabad, which has long been accused of allowing militants within Pakistan’s boarder regions who carry out terrorist operations in Afghanistan. The president has a history of making threats involving the denial of US aid to countries and entities who fail to abide by reasonable conditions. The Trump administration is signaling an end to US financial support of those who are perceived to stand in opposition to the safety of the United States.