The Obama administration has said it will suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid and reimbursements to Pakistan. The move is widely seen as reflecting a high level of frustration in Washington with the Pakistani government. It is also a highly risky step to take against a government that is a key ally in a war.
Government-to-government disputes between friendly governments usually take place in private and are smoothed over in public. So the Obama administration’s decision to hold back some $800 million in U.S. military assistance is a highly unusual display of Washington’s diplomatic displeasure with Islamabad.
Former State Department policy planner Daniel Markey, now with the Council on Foreign Relations, says the move reflects a downward trajectory in U.S.-Pakistan relations.
"It’s definitely a sign that the relationship is spiraling downwards, and I think it’s a ratcheting up of the pressure from Washington," said Markey. "But I don’t think it’s a significant enough ratcheting up to actually turn a corner in a constructive way. If anything, it looks more like frustration and venting, which may contribute to a further spiraling downward."
Total U.S. aid to Pakistan last year came to about $4.5 billion, about half of which went to the military. Daniel Markey says the administration probably acted in anticipation of some kind of move by Congress, where sentiment to curtail aid to Pakistan has been growing.
"The U.S. has been frustrated and has felt that Pakistan has not turned a positive corner - that, if anything, relations from the Pakistani side have gotten more negative," he said. "And so I gather that in response to that - and perhaps in anticipation that the U.S. Congress would cut assistance if the administration did not - the Obama administration has decided, as they put it, to postpone the delivery of monies, some of which the Pakistanis believe they deserve because they’ve already conducted operations and used that money."
马尔基说：“美国一直感到很受挫，而且觉得巴基斯坦没有转为积极，巴基斯坦对美国的关系变得更加负面。因此我认为，政府对此的回应是决定暂停送 钱给巴基斯坦。这个反应或许是预期如果行政当局不削减对巴基斯坦的援助，国会就会删减援助款项。部分这些援助款巴基斯坦认为他们理所应得，因为他们已经采 取了行动并且使用了援助款项。”
But Professor Larry Goodson of the U.S. Army War College says it is a gamble to hold back aid to Islamabad since most of the supplies for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan move by land routes through Pakistan.
"It is an extremely big risk to take. In my judgment, it’s extremely dangerous to tell the person who has his hands around your throat, ‘don’t squeeze, or I’ll get really angry with you.’ The truth is, they control the supply lines," said Goodson. "And in the past, we have seen clear indicators when they have been unhappy with us, there have been attacks on the supply lines."
The U.S. has complained that Pakistan has not done enough to eradicate militant sanctuaries along the Afghan border and has demanded more cooperation from the Pakistani military and intelligence services. But U.S. officials privately voice concern about sharing intelligence with Pakistan for fear it will be leaked to militants. The Pakistani government, and in particular the powerful military, was embarrassed and upset that they were not informed in advance of the U.S. raid on a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad where Osama bin Laden was found and killed.
美国抱怨说，巴基斯坦在扫荡阿富汗边界一带的激进分子窝藏地方面做的不够，美国要求巴基斯坦军方和情报机构进行更多合作。但是美国官员私下对跟 巴基斯坦分享情报感到忧虑，他们担心，对方会把情报泄露给激进分子。巴基斯坦政府，尤其是势力强大的军方对美国没有事前知会他们突袭本.拉登的行动感到颜 面尽失。美军在巴基斯坦城市阿伯塔巴德找到了本.拉登匿藏处并且将他击毙。
Most recently the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, publicly implicated the Pakistani government in the kidnapping, torture, and murder of a Pakistani journalist who was critical of the intelligence service. Islamabad angrily dismissed the allegation as “baseless” and “irresponsible.”
Pakistan was a key U.S. ally in organizing and supplying the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan in the 1980s, but was then subjected to some U.S. military sanctions over its nuclear program after Soviet forces withdrew. Larry Goodson says that left a lot of residual bad feeling towards the U.S. in Pakistan.
"Pakistan has this world view whereby the United States is an unreliable partner or ally and that we periodically push them to do things that they don’t want to do or whatever, and then we leave them in the lurch," he said. "That’s the narrative, right, the Pakistani narrative of the United States, and not without its justification and all that. But it nonetheless is a sort of narrative."
Goodson says the sentiment generated in Pakistan by the current military aid suspension may come back to haunt the U.S. as moves begin for a political settlement in neighboring Afghanistan, where Pakistan is expected to want to play some kind of role.