Afghan Withdrawal: Rejuvenating the Carrots and Sticks of Economy


Whenever the United States had her national interests to fulfill, the funds were allowed and when Pakistan’s interests collided with the American aspirations, the same were denied.

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The debt clocks are ticking, the denominations increasing in 100,000s per second and the main figure preparing to cross the $55 trillion barrier in a matter of days. One state already owes around $14 trillion and is preparing to ask for more without any checks and balances, while the other is standing only at the $130 billion marker with lagaan type proposals. In this fiasco, we have a global economic crisis on a steady rise on one side and increased spending on the other, and to top this cake with the most beautiful cherry, we have global conflicts. Political scientists have stated that the world is anarchic but they never meant it literally; their rationale for this statement was about lack of hierarchy amongst sovereign states, but the world seems to have taken their word verbatim.

From restricting financial support to demands of more monetary relaxation, the War on Terror has revealed more than what is apparent from the annals of history. From CENTO dollars to the PresslerAmendment, and from Obama’s promise to provide relaxation in loans to the promised $5 billion that never reached the doors of Pakistan, economic turbulence has spiked to its maximum. However, in the last decade, the War on Terror has revealed so much that was formerly often unsaid but at present is crystal clear. The recent threat of economic sanctions from the US against the Iran-Pakistan gas-pipeline, prior to their withdrawal from Afghanistan, is again a pearl of the same string. With no alternatives and plain sanctions, demanding to ‘do more’ seems either a joke or a threat.

The relationship between Pakistan and the United States has mostly been under high criticism over a few decades. Many Congressmen of the United States and many parliamentarians from Pakistan have continuously stressed on deciding this matter once and for all, with a majority of them calling it a burden and an impossible liability. However, this criticism, offered from both sides, is neither based on political malfeasance nor on strategic implications, but rather on something that drives almost all the matters of interstate dealing amongst the two sovereign states. Where the United States of America has a complete lack of trust and transparency over the assistance provided by Pakistan for which the aid is released, Pakistan is of the opinion that this release of funds is solely to pressurize Pakistan in order to undermine their national interests and to restrict them from gaining influence in the region.

Events like the Raymond Davis shootout; the NATO strikes at the Salalah Check-post of the Pakistan Army; restrictions over NATO supply lines from Pakistan; the ever controversial issue of drone strikes; and the Osama bin Laden episode have further exacerbated the relations, which have adequately dented the economic relations amongst the two countries, consequently showing its strain on other matters like diplomacy and strategic partnership.

The best view of where the problem lies in a complete assessment of the Pak-US economic relation. Ascertainment of responsibility against reckless behavior is rather impossible, as both states’ actors have acted or omitted certain actions in the name of the pursuit of state interests. The Rational Actor Model clearly applies in this approach, as states interacting with each other always undertake a certain method or procedure, but the mainstream imperative remains the pursuance of their own national interests.

The choice of allying with the United States of America was quite clear for Pakistan: India, the archrival, declared a Non-aligned stance after independence, but its international inclination was clearly towards the Soviet Union; so in a bipolar world of the late 1940s and early 1950s, Pakistan chose the other pole lead by the United States and started to reap immediate benefits. In collaboration with the United States of America, Pakistan joined the SEATO and CENTO arrangements, receiving a hefty $2 billion between 1953 and 1961 as financial assistance, initiating economic relations between the two states.

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is a Masters in Strategic and Nuclear Studies from the National Defense University. He can be reached on

Discussion4 Comments

  1. I can answer the author’s question at the end. Compliance. As always that is the incentive for the US. The US never has and never will give aid out of the goodness of it’s heart. Their “aid” is actually a bribe to the corrupt leaders. Not to mention that the aid has to be spent on American goods. quite clever i must say. The “aid” not being used to bribe politicians is going back to American companies anyways. This keeps the Pakistani reliance on american goods instead of pakistani products, therefore pakistan’s economy from getting better. Same thing with the loans that in reality can never be paid back (and they aren’t ever meant to be).

  2. Somewhere the author of the article has also mis-spelt the word aid; It is actually AID, not aid; US-Agency for International Development (US-AID). This agency called AID, and we think it is aid and free money, actually is the funds for projects and the money is dispensed by US against very long term, very low interest rates for development projects; Pakistan gets this US-AID package which is supposed to be returned back in time; there is no FREE LUNCH as it is said, so thinking it is aid and not to be repaid back is living in fools paradise; which Pakistanis love to stay in and dream about. Absolutely it is the fault of our media, government and the leaders of country who project this aid concept; LIES it is; … We Pakistanis are not used to face the truth as it is in short supply and take refuge behind the curtains of deceit and lies;

  3. The author is truly delusional and has no understanding of the international issues and the ground realities out there. Crying hoarse about things will not help solve problems anywhere.

    And the word US aid is not aid but AID i.e., Agency for International Development. Better research would have helped the authenticity of the article.

  4. 1. You do not need to write two pages long, to describe what are actually just two words …. “transactional relationship”.
    2. With the change in US-India equation, and with the quiet transfer of a huge military aid, that includes over 5000 top of the line air-to-air missiles, the US have cleverly changed its pro-Pakistan position to a neutral one. Therefore, Pakistan would now see reduction of flow of American dollars in the coming years.

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