In this blog I’m sharing some key notes from an interesting panel discussion on “Future of U.S – PAKISTAN Relationship”. This event was organized by USIP on November 16, 2016 and following were the panelists:
• Dr. Ishrat Husain
Public Policy Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and former Governor of State Bank of Pakistan
• Robin Raphel
Former Assistant Secretary of State
• Husain Haqqani
Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia, Hudson Institute
• Lisa Curtis
Senior Research Fellow, Heritage Foundation
• Moeed Yusuf – Moderator
Associate Vice President, Asia Center, U.S. Institute of Peaceunnamed
• Since 9/11 Pakistan has received $20.9b in shape of U.S assistance to economic security, humanitarian, military reimbursements. During 2010 the assistance increased up to $4.6b but then it got decreased and FY2016 it was ~$1.2b and less than $1.0b is anticipated for FY2017.
• Early this year (2016) more conditions were applied for assistance to Pakistan by U.S and decline for subsidy on F16 fighter jets. So the narratives on both sides are different for U.S assistance to Pakistan.
Robin Raphel
• There has been some successful projects under that Kerry Lugar Bill including; infrastructure, educational scholarships, humanitarian assistance programs and economic development programs. State Department and USAID merged the mutual interests for long term projects focused on long term development v/s short term projects focused on stabilization and post conflict situations.
• Now Pakistan has much better understanding of its priorities, planning commission has a vision 2025, USAID and other donors are trying to align their programs with that. The current Pakistan government is much less attentive as it’s very less or no heard that Pakistani government is engaged in global war against terrorism and they are spending any billion dollar amount for that.
• There’s much more of importance on trade not aid to interest U.S companies for investments, that’s why bilateral donor flows now are much smaller globally. It’s important to stay engaged with Pakistan on economic and development issues. If U.S has an interest of economic reform in Pakistan and if U.S is heard in strategic dialogues that are in important sectors to both countries then there is a need of development program to be kept to support reform which U.S would like to see in Pakistan.
Responding to a question she said that the U.S government supports CPEC, although initially there were fears that CPEC may cause China’s influence in Pakistan but now U.S thinks if China has the resources to build infrastructure in Pakistan that is a good initiative. Whole hog China will not be an option for Pakistan to find it very sustainable.
Lisa Curtis
• She expressed her condolence to Pakistani nation for 2 major terrorist attacks in Baluchistan, she mentioned that 8 years ago when Obama’s administration entered the office with an idea to elevate the strategic dialogue and increased engagement b/w U.S and Pakistan, that would convince Pakistan to more closely align its objectives in Afghanistan with those of U.S.
• In FY2017 the State Department requested $743 million for both economic and military assistance, which is very less than the aid provided during 2010-2011. Reasons for decrease in aid is because U.S draw down in Afghanistan, U.S relies less on ground lines of communication through Pakistan and disport troops in Afghanistan; the fact that Osama bin Laden was eliminated but U.S did not see the actions of Pakistan against Taliban, Haqqani Network and those groups who attacked India including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad who resides in Pakistan.
• Obama administration exercised its national security waiver authority to waive those conditions but few years ago Congress put in national defense authorization act, stipulating that $300 million of coalition support funds (CSF) would not be allowed to fall under that waiver authority. Past summer Defense Department could not certify that Pakistan had taken certain actions against these groups specially Haqqani Network, so $300 million in CFS were withheld.
• Two professors of American University in Afghanistan were kidnapped in August and there is information that those professors are kept in Pakistan, U.S hopes that Pakistan takes responsibility for abiding its land to be used for terrorist activities and all possible measures will be taken to release thosein hostage.
• In 2008 “Pakistan Experts Report” had recommended that U.S should develop a strategy that seeks to adjust Pakistan’s cost benefit calculus of using militants in its foreign policy and that should be done by close cooperation and collaboration of U.S military assistance. The strategy didn’t succeed, still all these terrorist groups operate from Pakistan and those who were involved in Mumbai attacks were released by Pakistan. U.S cannot achieve its counter terrorism objectives without Pakistan’s support against terrorists and it’s not in the U.S interest to make an enemy out of Pakistan.
• Pointing on Capitol Hill idea which designates Pakistan’s state sponsor terrorism, she said that would be unhelpful and this will preclude U.S from providing any kind of aid to Pakistan and will also cause a breach in relationship so that’s not a realistic policy option. U.S must leverage the military aid to encourage tough policies against all terrorists that exist in Pakistan. Civilian aid should not be impacted. U.S has clear objectives in Afghanistan as there are 9000 troops posted and will continue to be at frontline for war against terrorism, because U.S can’t see Afghanistan to be destroyed like Iraq.
While responding to few questions she mentioned that, “The military aid can influence against the militant groups, arguing with Dr. Ishrat; she said that foreign assistance is tool to development and such tools U.S has to try to get the objectives in the region. The best case will be Pakistan cut down all terrorist groups within its territory, seeking dialogue with India and Afghanistan. Worst case scenario would be, there is a major terrorist attacks in the U.S that has origins in Pakistan. Most likely the continuous decline in the assistance to Pakistan will be seen unless there are no policy changes for Pakistan after witnessing the Pakistani initiatives against terrorist groups.
Hussain Haqqani
He described the U.S-Pakistan relations with 6 words (taken from his book) as bellow:
1. Diversions: since beginning Pakistan and U.S have diversions of core interests, as Pakistan’s policy has always been scented on Pakistan’s relations with India which has been Pakistan’s consistent policy and is not U.S policy. So there is a need to think about how to fit America’s concerns purposeful in Pakistan’s concerns so that Pakistan can continue to receive the assistance under the America’s grand strategy.
2. Delusion: Pakistan has always felt that the relations with the U.S is the key to enabling Pakistan to be able to have parity with India, whereas Americans always perceived that Pakistan needs assistance so if we give them what they are asking for then we can get anything done what we want them to do.Pakistan is not going to change its priorities and things cannot change by just changing the leaders, because the citizens have also the same feelings about U.S. Pakistan always assumed that Americans will put weight behind Pakistan to sort out the issues with India but that never happened. Pakistan will take actions against all terrorist groups in its territory but not the ones in India and Afghanistan.
3. Dependence: Despite of U.S aid to Pakistan ~$43b since 1949, Pakistan has created a culture of dependency on U.S, as an example he mentioned that $10b aid to South Korea has brought miraculous change in their economy verses $43b to Pakistan brought no change, which means there is something wrong and needs to be understood and addressed.
4. Disappointment: Despite of all the aid by America the economy didn’t rise which is a disappointment for Pakistan, for Americans the results against the payments are not received so again further payments are made to achieve the goal which never happens in such cycle.
5. Distortion: Distortion in the views of each other, as Pakistanis say that why should we change the way we see the world for any amount of money that U.S gives us to do so, as per the approval of Kerry Lugar bill the congress has put some conditions for the aid, so if Pakistan wants to receive the aid then it has to fulfill the requirements that come with the money. If we don’t fulfill our promises then we should not make any promise and should not accept any aid.
6. Dysfunction: The relationship as it has proceeded has added to the political and democratic dysfunction in Pakistan, it has led to security establishment which far more dependent on the assistance than the economy, because quality of U.S equipment, as military demands American aircraft whichPakistan cannot buy on cash so we have to make such promises and adjustments which we don’t intend.
Haqqani urged Pakistan to take that approach because “we need to change Pakistan for the better for our own sake, not because America wants us to, but because … we need to get rid of the jihadists and we need to get on better with India.”
While recommending Americans, he said that they should think about what kind of society and state they are promoting by looking for short term interests. As an example in 1950s the original expectation of U.S was that Pakistan will provide a military airbase to fly bombers to soviet union but the base was not given then Americans asked U2 base in Peshawar to spy on Soviet Union, so it was a minor success and a short term interest of U.S which doesn’t have an impact at big level. So America should think about this relationship of diversions, delusions, dependence, disappointment, distortion and dysfunction really works for America’s interest? Which certainly does not work for Pakistan’s!
Answering to a few questions he said, “The weakest links b/w U.S-Pakistan relationship is that it came on aid relationship very early which become an influential relationship. He reminded by quoting John Foster Dulles’s views “if we can’t get Pakistan to do that we wanted to do now but if we develop an influential relationship and it will do later”. So the State Department thinks the same way that with money they can buy what they want to but it doesn’t happen. The real influence is when you get someone change their policies.
In such relationships we tend to overstate our virtue and understate our flaw, and that is the case with both U.S and Pakistan. So why should the USAID/UKAID program help reform Pakistan, why shouldn’t this be the objective of leaders and nation of Pakistan and this is the psyche has created aid based relationship b/w U.S and Pakistan.
Commenting on new administration’s future strategies he mentioned that the most likely scenario can be “curbs on immigration from Pakistan, aid will decline and reactions will be seen in Pakistan too, which is hopefully measured so that there shouldn’t be provoked reaction cycle in U.S.
Dr. Ishrat Hussain
• Referring to cross country comparisons and in-country case studies he mentioned that there is no co-relation b/w development and aid and aid has no impact on economic and social development concerns and the myth of giving aid will bring miraculous changes is not realistic.
• In terms of international aid, so far Pakistan has received only 2% of its GDP as international aid and 98% of GDP has been generated domestically. $1.5b under the Kerry Lugar bill constitutes only 4% of the total expenditure of the federal and provincial governments including military budget.
• Another myth is that the CSF is an assistance aid to Pakistan, whereas our defense minister has declared that this amount of money is spent by Pakistan to support U.S through airbases, movements of troops and logistics in war against terror. So CFS is reimbursement of what Pakistan spends in advance for U.S military operations, it is totally disagreed that CFS is a portion of Aid assistance by U.S to Pakistan.
• Neither the U.S is happy with the traditional, historical, financial, and economic and security aid nor its citizens. Why should U.S taxpayers continue to subsidize other developing countries like Pakistan? The U.S media and congress always threatens that if we stop funding Pakistan it will come to its knees and that creates a very adverse reaction in Pakistan. So there shouldn’t be a single penny of traditional, financial, and economic and security aid going to Pakistan.
• Pakistan should tax its elite class and extract the profits they are making from huge returns in order to carry forward. 10% of GDP is collected from taxes while aid is just 1-2%. So we don’t need any Aid!
• The historical relation b/w U.S and Pakistan has become close when they both have a mutual threat, which is negative and reactive incentive for cooperation. The relationship which is based on opportunistic and negative objectives will not be enduring and that hurts both parties, as after 1991 Pressler’s Amendment; Pakistanis were very annoyed about we have done what U.S wanted us to do to help kick out Soviet Union from Afghanistan yet they have imposed all kinds of sanctions against Pakistan.
• After the withdrawal of U.S from Afghanistan, it was blamed on Pakistan although these mujaheddin were being trained by CIA and ISI which we call fanaticism.
• He admired U.S innovative technology, entrepreneurship by sharing that the 40% of the world’s research and development spending is spent in the U.S, 70% of the Nobel Prize winners are working in the U.S so he suggested Pakistan to build its future with knowledge economy by sending best students to U.S to study, research and learn and utilize their expertise in Pakistan with collaboration of U.S.
• While arguing on aid, he claimed that USAID/UKAID or any international assistance has done nothing in order to support economic reforms, as a chairman of national commission for government reforms, we produced 2 volume report on governance reform in Pakistan but none of these donors took a single part of that report for even dialogue with the government.
• Pakistan with 200M population out of which the 60M is middle class with $10,000 purchasing power at their disposal, the average returns to the multinationals today is more than 25%, so it’s a big market for U.S and U.S companies to invest in Pakistan. He encouraged Trump administration and congress to really help Pakistan to have a non-threatening but extremely synergistic relationships between both countries.
While sharing his perspective and suggestions he mentioned, “If the new administration de-hyphenates Pakistan from Afghanistan that will be more enduring and positive relationship b/w U.S and Pakistan”
The new transition of U.S administration may have some serious focus on U.S Pakistan relations, so the four former U.S and Pakistani officials suggested long term relationship strategy which contains mutual benefits and consent for the better future of the region and both countries.

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