Reports on American Aid – Fiction & Reality.

Jul 15th, 2011 | By | Category: Dawn, The News

The News (Jang Group) yesterday published an editorial which characterises as ‘punitive’ the recent announcement by US officials that $800 million in aid to Pakistan will be suspended. But is this really a case of the US ‘punishing’ Pakistan?

Though only two paragraphs, the editorial in question describes the situation in harsh terms several times. It is termed as “Washington’s punitive move to withhold military assistance”, “hitting back”, an attempt to “bully Pakistan into submission”, and “punitive actions”.

But is this really a case of US attempting to “bully Pakistan into submission”?

According to Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan, the funds are tied to training programs that have been suspended.

Equipment aid the United States is withholding is “directly tied to those decisions by the Pakistani military to curtail training and to not grant visas for some of the U.S. personnel that we need to get in,” Lapan said. “If those things change, then this aid will change as well.”

This was confirmed by the Foreign Office. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar told Dawn that “The $500 million cut in US aid to Pakistan is due to the drop in US trainers in Pakistan”.

Therefore the aid in question is on hold because the trainings are on hold. Now we must ask, why are the trainings on hold? Is this another sign of America abandoning Pakistan? Actually quite the opposite. The trainings are on hold because Army kicked the American trainers out.

Gen Kayani, confirmed American military trainers had been kicked out of Pakistan in retaliation at the American raid and said intelligence sharing had been curtailed.

Let us consider the confirmation of COAS Gen Kayani with that of the American military spokesman Col Lapan. If Pakistan kicked the American trainers out, but the Americans say that they will come back if re-invited then this cannot be abandoning Pakistan.

It should also be asked that if the US is punishing Pakistan, why did Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides telephone Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to assure the Minister that the Americans are committed to providing economic assistance to Pakistan?

At the State Department, spokesman Toner told reporters that Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides telephoned the Pakistani finance minister earlier on Thursday and discussed with him the importance of continuing cooperation on the US-Pakistan civilian assistance programme.

“Deputy Secretary Nides reiterated to Minister Shaikh that the United States remains committed to working in partnership with Pakistan to fuel economic growth and to improve its energy, education and health sectors,” the spokesman said.

Mr Toner noted that since the passage of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman, the US had dispersed about $2 billion in civilian assistance, which included over $550 million in emergency humanitarian assistance during the floods.

“We do have a slowdown on the security side, but our civilian assistance remains undeterred,” he said.

“The crux of the conversation was about the continuing flow of civilian assistance and how best to ensure that that meets Pakistan’s needs.”

DG ISI Pasha is presently in Washington to hold talks at the highest levels with his American counterparts. There are real issues that must be discussed and worked out between Pakistan and the US to promote each countries interests. When media mischaracterises actions such as withholding of aid, it makes it more difficult for officials on both sides to overcome suspicion and see the other side’s point of view.

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