The message is that regardless of who is in power in Pakistan, the United States is focused on ending Pakistan’s support of militant groups and will no longer provide any kind of financial assistance to Pakistan. The only problem is that it’s unclear what the Trump administration’s ultimate goal is—not just with regard to Pakistan, but also Afghanistan.
The aid cut is consistent with President Trump’s hard‐line approach toward Pakistan. The White House has made military and security cuts. These include limiting Pakistan’s access to Foreign Military Financing, a loan or grant that allows countries to purchase U.S. arms, equipment, services and training. The United States also lobbied to include Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force’s (an international consortium to counter terrorist financing) “grey‐list,” which is a list of countries that can be sanctioned due to their involvement in illicit terrorist financing. One of the biggest impacts of being on the grey list will be on Pakistan’s flailing economy. And just last month, the Trump administration suspended Pakistan from the U.S. International Military Education and Training program that has been considered a hallmark of the bilateral relationship.
This latest cut to Pakistan’s coalition support fund, which is a program that allows the Department of Defense to use funds from its emergency response fund to reimburse coalition partners for logistical and operational support to U.S. military operations, is a not a surprise. In fact, the cuts are part of financial aid cuts announced in January 2018. Pakistan’s relatively muted reaction, however, also reflects the Khan administration’s foreign policy priorities, which include improving the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. Both Khan and his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi have moved away from their anti–American campaign rhetoric, and are now emphasizing their desire to listen to U.S. concerns and mend the strategic partnership.