Pakistan’s strategic importance as an ally to the US has sharply diminished due to Islamabad’s continued support for resurgent militant groups hostile to Washington, as well as warming American military and business relations with India, according to US military, diplomatic, and intelligence officials and outside experts.
The US has cut both military and economic assistance to Pakistan sharply in recent years, reflecting growing frustration among American officials with the nuclear-armed country’s support for the Taliban militant group in neighboring Afghanistan, Reuters reported.
US officials and analysts say that Islamabad’s support of the Taliban has hurt US-Pakistan ties for more than a decade, but the frustration has further spiked as the militant group has advanced in parts of Afghanistan that US and NATO forces once helped to secure.
“We’re seeing a very definitive and very sharp reorienting of US policy in South Asia
away from Afghanistan-Pakistan and more towards India,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia
expert with the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington-based think-tank.
US military and economic aid to Pakistan is expected to total less than $1 billion in 2016, down from a recent peak of more than $3.5 billion in 2011, according to US government data. Pakistan was once the third-largest recipient of US foreign assistance.
The decrease also comes amid budget restrictions and shifting global priorities for the US, including fighting the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group, and an increasingly assertive China and Russia.
Earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter refused to authorize $300 million in military aid to Pakistan, citing the limited gains the country has made fighting the terrorist Haqqani network.
“Congress is no longer willing to fund a state that supports the Afghan Taliban, which is killing American soldiers,” said Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution expert and former CIA officer who headed President Barack Obama’s first Afghanistan policy review.
Pakistani authorities have long rejected accusations that Islamabad has provided support and sanctuary to militants operating in Afghanistan. A senior Pakistani defense official said the US will continue to need Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.
“We have lost over a hundred billion dollars in fighting terrorism, which is more than anything they have given us,” the Pakistani official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.