The U.S. is reportedly set to block a military aid tranche to Pakistan because of its failure to crack down on the Haqqani network, a designated terrorist organization with ties to the Taliban, that attacks U.S. and Afghan forces on a regular basis.
It’s about time.
According to Pakistani media, U.S. officials have told their Pakistani counterparts that they will not certify to the U.S. Congress that Pakistani counterterrorism operations in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan have damaged the Haqqani network.
Pakistan launched an offensive against the bases of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP or Pakistani Taliban is an organization, which has ties to al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, but focuses mainly on attacking Pakistani targets) in North Waziristan over a year ago after they attacked the Karachi airport. Pakistani efforts against the TTP intensified following the group’s a horrific massacre at a military school in Peshawar last December that killed over 130 children.
But the decision not to certify a new tranche of Coalition Support Funds (CSF) aimed at reimbursing Pakistan for its counterterrorism operations in the region signals U.S. patience with escalating violence in Afghanistan is wearing thin. The U.S. has provided around $13 billion in CSF funding to Pakistan since 2001, in addition to the nearly $14 billion in other economic and security aid the U.S. has transferred to the country.
The U.S. has long conditioned its aid to Pakistan on the country meeting certain benchmarks, including “demonstrating a sustained commitment to combatting terrorist groups on Pakistani soil.”
However, over the last few years, the U.S. secretary of state has waived these conditions on grounds that it was in the U.S. national security interest to transfer the funding even though the legislative conditions had not been met.
Last year Congress added a new requirement to the CSF program that the U.S. defense secretary certify that military operations in North Waziristan have significantly disrupted the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani network. If the defense secretary is unable to make this certification, funds in the amount of $300 million will not be available for Pakistan, even if the administration chooses to exercise its waiver authority. Despite Pakistani proclamations that they no longer distinguished between “good” and “bad” Taliban, most observers assessed that Haqqani camps were spared during the military operation dubbed “Zarb-e-Azb” (sharp strike).
In a Heritage backgrounder published last month, I argued that the U.S. must stop using national security waiver authority to provide security-related assistance to Pakistan, given its failure to crack down on the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, another terrorist group. I argued that unless the U.S. follows through on withholding military aid to Pakistan on the basis of its support to terrorist groups, Pakistan will continue to serve as a base of operations for groups that both threaten regional stability and are responsible for attacks against the U.S.
While Pakistan has suffered massively from terrorist attacks over the last eight years and the U.S. should partner with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism, Washington can no longer skirt around the fact that Pakistan has failed to crack down on certain terrorist groups that continue to conduct attacks and undermine critical U.S. national security interests in the region.