Pakistan on Monday remained outwardly unfazed by clear indications from Washington that $800 million in military aid would be withheld, with the military here maintaining this would not affect ongoing operations.
According to military spokesman Athar Abbas, the U.S. has not officially communicated to Pakistan its decision to withhold a part of the military aid. Though this has been talked about ever since al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was found in a cantonment area of Pakistan, it was confirmed on Sunday by White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley in an interview to ABC Television.
Acknowledging the new strains to ties by the U.S. raid in Abbottabad, Mr. Daley said: “Pakistan has taken some steps that have given us reason to pause on some of the aid which we're giving to the military.” Quantifying the aid cut at $800 million, he added “until we get through these difficulties, we'll hold back some of the money that the American taxpayers have committed to give them”.
A related statement sent by Pentagon to some American media houses indicated the cut in U.S. armed personnel stationed in Pakistan as a key irritant. “The reduced presence of our trainers and other personnel means we can't deliver the assistance that requires training and support to be effective,” the statement said in a reference to the U.S. troop cut insisted on by Pakistan after the Raymond Davis episode and implemented in the wake of the Abbottabad operation.
Reacting to the news reports, Major-General Abbas said the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) had already stated that military aid from the U.S. should be redirected toward civilians. “Other than that, Army in the past as well as at present, has conducted successful military operations using its own resources without any external support whatsoever.”
Accused of being incompetent in the wake of the Abbottabad operation and the terrorists' siege of naval airbase PNS Mehran, COAS Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in early June told the Corps Commanders that economic rather than military aid was more essential for Pakistan. “In line with the position taken in the Pakistan-U.S. strategic dialogue in March 2010, it is being recommended to the government that the U.S. funds meant for military assistance to Army be diverted towards economic aid to Pakistan.”
General Kayani also flagged the discrepancy in figures cited about the quantum of military aid from the U.S. Disputing the claim that the Army had used $12 billion-$15 billion in the last 10 years, he said under the Coalition Support Fund, only $ 8.6 billion had been received by Pakistan against $ 13 billion expected from the U.S. Of this, the federal government had given only $ 1.4 billion to the Army over the past decade and a relatively smaller amount was given to the Navy and the Air Force.