US aid to Pakistan should drop to match realistic expectations: Report

As India reacts strongly to America's USD 532 million economic aid to Pakistan, a media report has questioned whether Pakistan is "worth" the US investment, saying the levels of assistance to Islamabad should drop to be in line with "more realistic expectations" about the diminished potential for bilateral cooperation.

PTI| Last Updated: Jan 10, 2015, 14:25 PM IST

New York: As India reacts strongly to America's USD 532 million economic aid to Pakistan, a media report has questioned whether Pakistan is "worth" the US investment, saying the levels of assistance to Islamabad should drop to be in line with "more realistic expectations" about the diminished potential for bilateral cooperation.

"Pakistan still receives more assistance than most countries, a holdover from the days when Washington mistakenly thought it might be a real partner," the New York Times said in an editorial yesterday.

"But the levels are declining and should continue to do so. Cutting aid precipitously would be unwise, but a managed decrease is in line with more realistic expectations about the diminished potential for bilateral cooperation," the editorial titled 'Is Pakistan Worth America's Investment?' said.

It does not take much to stir controversy over America's relationship with Pakistan, the editorial said, adding the "latest dust-up" involves USD 532 million in economic assistance that the US expects to provide later this year.

"Last week, Pakistani officials jumped the gun by suggesting the money is closer to being disbursed than it is; the news annoyed India, which doesn't think the aid is merited," it said.

Since the 9/11 terror attacks, the US has provided Pakistan with billions of dollars, mostly in military aid, to help fight extremists but there are many reasons to have doubts about the investment.

The editorial said it is in America's interest to maintain assistance ? at a declining level ? at least for the time being.

"But much depends on what the money will be used for.

"One condition for new aid should be that Pakistan do more for itself ? by cutting back on spending for nuclear weapons and requiring its elites to pay taxes," it said.

The editorial added that there are doubts about the aid centre on Pakistan's army, which has "long played a double game - accepting America's money while enabling some militant groups, including members of the Afghan Taliban who have been battling American and Afghan troops in Afghanistan".

The US-Pakistan relationship hit bottom in 2011 when al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found hiding in Pakistan and was killed by a Navy SEAL team.

But it has since improved, with Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to visit Islamabad soon.

"This double game is a big reason that the administration has been unable to fulfill Congress's mandate to certify that Pakistan has met certain requirements, including preventing its territory from being used for terror attacks, as a condition of assistance. Instead, officials have had to rely on a national security waiver to keep aid flowing," it said.

Reacting strongly to a reported US certification that Pakistan has curbed terror, leading to more aid to Islamabad, India had asserted that its neighbour was not showing "sustained commitment" or "ceasing support" or dismantling "bases of operations" of terror groups including LeT and al Qaeda.