We now know that segments of the Pakistani intelligence agency have likely been bamboozling the United States for years on Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts, and one impulsive response has been to demand reductions in the country’s foreign aid. Members of congress want to act, they want to act now, and what better way than by cutting off the most essential component of the Pakistani economy, American tax dollars?
But the issue isn’t that straightforward, as the Cable’s Josh Rogin reports:
As Congress contemplates cutting U.S. aid to Pakistan in light of the discovery that Osama bin Laden had been hiding there for years, the funds most at risk from disgruntled lawmakers are those currently allocated to the civilian government that is more sympathetic to Washington, rather than the money going to the Pakistani military, which is more wary of ties to the United States.
Rogin writes that the funding most vulnerable to cuts right now is the five-year $7.5 billion economic assistance program known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid package. But lawmakers are understandably hesitant to cut military aid to Pakistan, since its assistance is critical to fighting the war on terror.
To cut off military aid would create a situation in which we’re supporting the radical elements of the Pakistani military, while abandoning the part of the government that’s actually on our side. That’s not a good argument cutting military aid, which is necessary for security. If anything, the shadiness of the Pakistani military suggests that the civilian government needs more support from the U.S. Lawmakers are eager to look as if they are taking some sort of action on Pakistan, but slashing aid to the civilian government would be punishing our friends for the behavior of our enemies.