News broke last weekend that President Barack Obama plans to cut foreign aid to Pakistan by $800 million – money that would be used to reimburse the country for military operations at the Afghan border, as well as help provide training and supplies for its military.
U.S. relations with the nation have long been strained, but took a turn for the worse when the American military conducted a daring mission to kill the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden inside the heart of Pakistan in May. In light of intelligence surrounding his killing, the decision to decrease the more than $2 billion annual assistance package to the nation’s military is a just one.
After bin Laden’s compound was raided by Navy Seal Team Six, questions were immediately raised about the role Pakistan may have played in harboring him. Bin Laden was found in a $1 million compound in the city of Abbottabad, a military town only 35 miles north of Pakistan’s capital Islamabad – not exactly a cave in Afghanistan as previously thought.
According to MSNBC, analysts are hard pressed to believe that the al-Qaeda leader was hiding just a few hundred meters from Pakistan’s version of the West Point military academy without its intelligence service knowing.
It is striking that the U.S. chose not to notify Pakistan of the operation to capture bin Laden – a decision that put American forces at risk of being engaged by supposedly allied forces. The clear implication is that American military and intelligence agencies believed that if they had notified Pakistan, bin Laden would have been tipped off and fled.
Pakistan acknowledged the U.S.’s right to kill bin Laden in its first statement after the raid.
“This operation was conducted by the U.S. forces in accordance with declared U.S. policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the U.S. forces, wherever found in the world,” said a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
Yet, officials proceeded to kick Army personnel out of the country and deny visas for other American personnel shortly afterward, according to the New York Times. This two-faced behavior is not surprising.
According to the Times, the U.S. recently told Pakistan about suspected bomb-making factories within the country. The insurgents, interestingly, fled before Pakistani forces arrived.
With serious reason to believe Pakistan may be playing a double game, giving the U.S. lip service on the one hand while possibly aiding the Taliban and al-Qaeda on the other, cutting military funding to that country is prudent.