WASHINGTON –President Trump vowed on Twitter last month that “no more” would Pakistan provide safe haven to terrorists.
Shortly thereafter, the administration announced it would suspend nearly a billion dollars in security aid to Pakistan.
This followed years of accusations by US officials that the Taliban and other Islamic extremists have operated inside Pakistan with impunity.
Now, a month after that policy was announced, the US hasn’t seen “any change” in Pakistan’s behavior, according to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
Despite the lack of progress, Sullivan told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday that the US will “hold Pakistan accountable for its failure to hold militants accountable.”
However some experts say that is extremely unlikely.
Christine Fair, a professor with Georgetown University’s Peace and Securities Studies Program, says the current suspension of aid to Pakistan will never change their behavior. “All you have to do is look at a map,” she says.
According to Fair, the US needs a seaport to supply US and Afghan forces, and Pakistan provides the only viable option.
As a result, Fair says “Pakistan really does hold all the cards here.”
This isn’t the first time the US and Pakistan have disagreed over aid.
After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the US sent billions in civilian and military aid to Pakistan as part of an effort to bolster anti-Soviet forces in the region. After that war came to an end, the US withdrew and the aid money went with it.
In 2002, when the US invaded Afghanistan, aid once again began to flow to the Pakistanis, totaling $33 billion over the last 15 years, according to the current administration.
During the Obama years, the former President criticized the Pakistanis for allowing their country to be used as a base of operations for the Taliban and other extremist groups, saying in a radio interview in 2011, “they’ve got to take care of this problem.”
Speaking Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan reiterated this point, saying that while the U.S. continues to value its relationship with Pakistan, “they must take decisive action” against terrorists operating within their borders.
Until that time, Sullivan says, “suspension of security assistance continues.”