US aid to Pakistan for 2020 to be dismal

Yashwant Raj
The reason for the reduction, the US department of defence said, was “the continuing suspension of US security assistance to Pakistan based on the President’s January 4, 2018, guidance”.

The Trump administration has cut by half its budgetary request for a fund that the US uses to compensate coalition partners for military and logistical support, which could mean Pakistan, the principal beneficiary of the allocation, will get next to nothing from it.

The fiscal year 2020 budget request for Coalition Support Fund (CSF) of $450 million reflects a $450 million (50%) decrease from the FY 2019 enacted level of $900 mn, the US department of defence said in a summary of its budgetary requests released Tuesday.

The reason for the reduction, it said, was “the continuing suspension of US security assistance to Pakistan based on the President’s January 4, 2018, guidance”. There is an additional $150 mn request for another programme related to coalition support, but that’s a separate head from CSF.

A US expert on South Asia affairs,, who has closely tracked US assistance to Pakistan years, said though the 2020 numbers and the context were not very clear yet, “one could read that DoD sentence as implying that the Pakistanis will get zero in FY20, with the $450mn channeled elsewhere”. The paltry request signalled that “security aid to Pakistan is suspended and the USG (US government) has not ended security aid to Pakistan and wants at least some to remain available now and going forward.”

The timing of the budgetary announcements, though a complete coincidence, nails Pakistan’s support and use of terrorists at a time when it faces global scrutiny and isolation in the aftermath of the terrorist strike in Pulwama. Of the $900 mn requested for 2019, $700 mn was meant for Pakistan and the rest for other countries. Congress granted only $350 mn in the National Defense Authorization Act 2019, which was also to be shared with other countries, and was meant for border security. The amount left for Pakistan was only $150 mn, according to experts, That authorisation runs out in December.

Pakistan has been the principal beneficiary of the CSF, as confirmed by Lt Colonel Kone Faulkner, a Pentagon spokesperson, till before the current freeze. It received an estimated $14.5 billion since 2002, for operational support provided to US forces in Afghanistan and counter-terrorism operations it has carried out on its soil against terrorists