Pakistan’s security leaders meet over American aid freeze

Pakistan’s security leaders meet over American aid freeze

Islamabad’s parliamentary security committee will meet with high-level military leaders today in the wake of the suspension of $1.9 billion

Pakistan army chief

Photo: ISI

Islamabad’s parliamentary security committee will meet with high-level military leaders today in the wake of the suspension of $1.9 billion in US military aid on January 4—including $1 billion in military equipment.

The meeting follows accusations of “lies and deceit” from Donald Trump after Islamabad refused to hand over an accused terrorist last month. The suspect, a member of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network, was wanted by US intelligence services to glean information about other American hostages held in the region.

Cutting aid to Pakistan is a risky strategy. The country is a less financially and diplomatically costly entry point for US forces into Afghanistan compared to Central Asia, where Russian influence remains supreme. However, the Trump administration is unlikely to lift the suspension unless Pakistan shows greater cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, such as handing over militants and increasing intelligence sharing.

Pulling all aid out of Pakistan, as Mr Trump mooted on January 6, also risks turning Pakistan’s military towards China. Indeed, burgeoning Sino-Pakistani trade ties are a substantial feature of the region; an extension into the military sphere would be problematic for Washington.