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Who benefits from Pakistan's loss of US aid?

11 29 21

The controversy began, as nearly everything in Washington, DC, does these days - with a tweet.

The New Year had barely dawned over the eastern United States when President Donald Trump shot out a nasty warning to Pakistan.

"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," complained the US president, ending his missive with the ominous warning, "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

In a testy State Department briefing the next day, a spokeswoman emphasised that Pakistan must do more to "earn" the aid that the US was giving. Before Pakistani leaders could hand in assurances, the sword fell. On January 4, the State Department announced that it was suspending security aid to the country, estimated to amount to roughly $1.3bn.

The threat and even the actual cutting of security aid to Pakistan is not a new strategy; it has periodically been deployed by previous US presidents, with mixed results. The aid freeze under Trump, however, is particularly troublesome for two reasons.

First, the unpredictable nature of the Trump presidency, its lack of a cohesive foreign policy, Trump's keen desire to appear the tough guy and his childish aversion to reversing any of his diktats mean that there may be little chance of the decision being reversed. In Trump's view that would be a sign of weakness and hence cannot happen.

Second, while analysts have made much of Pakistan's ability to turn to........

© Al Jazeera