US tightening aid curbs

THE general impression that the US aid to Pakistan would significantly come down and ultimately choked during tenure of the new administration is now becoming a reality as the US House of Representatives, on Friday, passed defence policy bill that includes provisions for tightening restrictions on US assistance to Pakistan. In a similar move, a congressional panel approved the State and Foreign Operations Bill that also suggests increased restrictions on US civil and military assistance to Pakistan.
This is yet another indication of what is in store for Pakistan in the weeks and months to come but regrettably we do not seem to be ready to brace the challenge. The United States has conveyed in recent weeks that the mantra of ‘do more’ would be the focus of their policy towards Pakistan and obviously civil and military assistance would be used as a tool to force Islamabad to toe Washington’s line. This is highly deplorable as Pakistan has been in the forefront of war against terrorism and it is acknowledged by neutral observers that whatever gains the world has achieved in Afghanistan in this fight are mainly due to sincere cooperation of Pakistan. In fact, the centres of this war have shifted to the Pak-Afghanistan border regions and Pakistan Army has been left alone to take care of the problem. Pakistan Army has rendered sacrifices and succeeded in minimizing the threat to a great extent but it is quite obvious that the country has limitations because of financial and technological constraints. Pakistan is diverting huge resources to the war against terror, leaving too little for developmental activities, which are being financed through loans and foreign assistance from countries like all-weather friend China. It is obvious that Pakistan will ultimately have to repay the loans with interest and therefore, it can’t afford to continue the war against terror on its own without cooperation of the world community especially the United States. Washington should, therefore, review its approach, which would achieve nothing except complicating things for Pakistan and in turn affecting the quality of war against terror.

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