The Trump Administration’s Pakistan Strategy: History Repeating Itself?
October 19, 2018
In his first tweet of 2018, President Donald Trump rebuked Pakistan for its “lies and deceit” in its partnership with the United States over the last decade and a half, accusing the country of harboring militants within its borders that undermine U.S. operations in Afghanistan. The tweet highlighted issues within the administration’s 2017 Afghanistan and South Asia Strategy as well as longstanding concerns within the U.S. government over Pakistan’s reliability as a security partner. Through both private and public channels and across U.S. administrations, Washington has noted its concerns of Islamabad playing a “double game” of partnering with the United States while simultaneously supporting anti-U.S. militants. Pakistan, on the other hand, holds up the loss of over 60,000 lives and $126 billion in damages due to terrorist attacks as the price it has paid for allying with the United States since it first launched its post-9/11 War on Terror.
Within days of the provocative New Year’s Day tweet, the Trump administration suspended nearly $900 million worth of security assistance to Pakistan. In the months that followed, U.S.-Pakistani relations have deteriorated further, with additional U.S. measures quietly being taken against Pakistan: the termination of Coalition Support Funds (CSF), the suspension of International Military Education and Training (IMET) programming, and an increasingly “hard line” taken by senior U.S. officials in their comments on Pakistan.
This piece was published as part of the Defense360
Hijab Shah is a research associate with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.