Stop Paying Pakistan to Betray Us

We must remember that Pakistan continues to be an unreliable partner in the fight against terrorism. For nearly two decades, we have hoped that Pakistan would clear the terrorist safe havens along the Afghanistan border and end its support for violent extremist groups.

We have even paid them $13 billion to do this. And yet, Pakistan still has not proven it is serious about combatting terrorism. Just earlier this month, the Pakistani Minister of Interior was shot by a man linked to an extremist political party in Pakistan.

This political party believes Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are not being strictly enforced to prosecute Christians or minority sects. The fact that Pakistan—a supposed ally of the United States—has a blasphemy law is troubling enough. 

Such intolerant laws only foster the extremism and hate that our terrorist foes thrive on. But Pakistan’s relationship with extremism is nothing new. Even when members of the Pakistan government become victims of the terrorism, they equivocate or blame someone else, like the U.S. or Afghanistan, while dismissing their own role in fueling such groups.

The evidence is clear, Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism can be traced to the Soviet-Afghan war and Pakistan’s ongoing conflict with India. After 9/11, Osama bin Laden and his ilk fled to Pakistan for a clear reason: because they knew it was a safe place for extremists.

For too long, we have fooled ourselves into thinking Pakistan is a responsible nation. During the Cold War we made a mistake identifying an Islamist state like Pakistan as an ally. They do not share our values and have inflamed conflict across South Asia for a long time.

We have poured billions of dollars into Pakistan hoping it will change. When will we accept that it will not? That violent extremism and anti-Americanism is too deeply rooted and that paying them only rewards bad behavior. 

Currently, we authorize roughly $700 million every year in coalition support funds for Pakistan to fight terrorism and support our efforts in Afghanistan. We long suspected, however, they were only taking token steps to fool us. 

Starting in FY2016, to be eligible for half of the CSF money, Congress required the Secretary of Defense to certify that Pakistan is taking adequate steps to combat the Haqqani Network—one of the worst terrorist groups in the region. 

And to no surprise, the Pentagon has been unable to certify that Pakistan is meeting this requirement since it was put into law. Despite failing to meet this certification, $350 million of the CSF money still goes to Pakistan. 

If it is clear that Pakistan is permitting terrorist groups to operate on its territory, why are we giving them any money at all? The time has come to end our delusion that Pakistan will fulfill its responsibility in the fight against terrorism. 

We should not be paying Pakistan to betray us. They will do it for free.

And that’s just the way it is.

 

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