U.S. proposes cut in aid to Pak.

May 25, 2017 12:00 am | Updated 03:36 am IST - Washington

Trump team plans to reduce military assistance from $265 mn this year to $100 mn

Less firepower:The reduction could affect Islamabad’s army, navy and air force.AFP

Less firepower:The reduction could affect Islamabad’s army, navy and air force.AFP

Pakistan will be among several countries that will be affected if cuts in military aid to partners proposed by the White House is passed by Congress.

The Trump administration has proposed that the military aid to Pakistan in 2018 be reduced to $100 million from $265 million in 2017.

The $100 million under foreign military funding is to help Pakistan buy military hardware. With other programmes added, total assistance proposed for Pakistan next year amounts to $344 million, which is also a substantial reduction.

Israel, Egypt and Jordan will not face any cuts in military grants. Israel will receive $3.1 billion, Egypt $1.3 billion and Jordan $350 million, respectively. Morocco, Lebanon and Iraq will face cuts along with Pakistan, if the administration’s proposals are passed. Several Republican lawmakers have said they would oppose the proposals and the budget as drafted by the administration has little chance to be passed.

A CBS report that quoted an internal memo said the State Department was opposed to cuts. The memo assesses that the reduction could affect Pakistan’s army, navy and air force and diminish its ability to patrol the maritime border.

May dent war on terror

The proposed cuts could impact Pakistan’s ability to fight terrorist organisations in the region, the State Department feels. Department officials also feel that many countries that are on the frontline of the fight against the Islamic State could be crippled if assistance from the U.S. dries up.

In the budget papers released on Tuesday, the State Department said: “Pakistan plays a key role in U.S. counterterrorism strategy, the peace process in Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation efforts, and stability and economic integration in South and Central Asia [SCA]. It is also a large and growing economy offering profitability for U.S. businesses. In FY 2018, SCA will maintain a robust diplomatic presence that will enable continued bilateral cooperation on the many joint U.S.- Pakistan interests, and bolster stability in this strategically important country.”

Conversion to loans

The Trump administration has also proposed that the military grants may be converted to loans wherever appropriate, an idea that could be detrimental to American interests, according to many commentators.

The proposed system will require partner countries to buy American weaponry with the loans before paying the money back to America. If implemented, the new system could drive many countries to America’s rivals such as China and Russia for military hardware and the State Department bureaucracy is opposed to it.

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