US-Pakistan Ties: More Military Aid and Less Foreign Assistance?

Once again, the Pakistani army has entered the Swaft Valley to combat the Taliban. Around 40,000 people have already left the region to find safety in Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province.

Of course this offensive comes in great timing with the declarations made by Barack Obama during the summit held in Washington, where he asked Hamid Karzai to increase his country's efforts to fight against Islamist extremism.

Pakistan appears more determined than before on this issue. Public opinion has been largely disappointed by the fact that the Taliban did not respect the peace accord on the Malakand region. They took advantage of this truce to strengthen their forces and expand their reach through Doggar, which is 110 kilometers from Islamabad. The Pakistani people considered this to be a real provocation and voices urging to stop the Taliban started to be heard more and more in local media.

However, lining up with the U.S. administration on how to deal with the Taliban threat may mean more cooperation between both countries on security matters but not necessarily more foreign assistance.

According to many American political experts, Pakistan cannot afford political instability while the U.S. Congress is preparing to debate on providing Pakistan with fresh economic assistance and increased amounts of nonmilitary aid. Political instability was not only provoked by the Taliban but also by a recent decision from Pakistan's highest court to ban from politics the head of the main opposition party and former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif.

"It's worrisome," said Fredrick Jones, communications director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Anything that forces the government to lose focus, and makes tough decisions politically difficult, has got to hurt the effort."

In terms of foreign aid, political instability comes at the worst time for Pakistan. Indeed, local NGOs are already suffering cuts in funding because of the lack of security. Foreign donors have tended to show more reluctance as it has become almost impossible for them to go and assess their projects on the field.

About the author

  • Antoine Remise

    Antoine is a former international development correspondent for Devex, based in Paris. He holds a bachelor's in political science from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques of Lille and a master's in development administration and planning from the University College in London. Antoine has conducted researche for development projects in Chile, Senegal and Uganda, notably on education, health, local saving systems and housing issues. He is fluent in French, English and Spanish.