WASHINGTON: Pakistan has actually got caught up in the US electoral skirmish after frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both zeroed in on the country’s support for terrorism despite milking Washington for billions of dollars in aid.
Called out publicly by the candidates and told by the Obama administration that it will have actually to fork out its own money to buy US military hardware, Islamabad lashed out at its benefactor, saying the American aid it got was “peanuts,” and it would certainly figure out other ways to buy F16s, for which the US Congress last week denied Pakistan subsidy.
Reports in the Pakistani media meanwhile said the country had borrowed $1.4 billion in the international market over the past six months, much of it without competitive bidding and amid transparency concerns.
Pakistan’s humiliation was compounded by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton maintaining that senior Pakistani leaders knew of Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad despite Washington not being able to prove it.
“It was just too much of a coincidence that that house, that unusual-looking estate would certainly be built in that community near the military academy, surrounded by retired military professionals, even though, we couldn’t prove it,” Clinton, who was Secretary of State when the raid took place, said in a CNN interview on the fifth anniversary of bin Laden’s death.
Her remarks came after her putative Republican rival for the White House, Donald Trump, suggested he’d get Pakistanis to free Dr Shakil Afridi — the man who helped US nail down bin Laden and who has actually been incarcerated by Pakistan — with a snap of his fingers.
“I think I would certainly get him out in two minutes. I would certainly tell them [Pakistan] let him out and I’m sure they would certainly let him out,” Trump said last week, suggesting that Islamabad was so beholden to US for aid that it would certainly immediately comply.
But Pakistan snapped back on Monday, dismissing US aid as “peanuts” in an echo of the derisive remark made in the 1970s by its then military leader Gen Zia-ul Haq to then US President Jimmy Carter, who was indeed a peanut farmer before he was elected to the White House.
“Contrary to Mr. Trump’s misconception, Pakistan is not a colony of America. Shakil Afridi is a Pakistani citizen and nobody else has actually the right to dictate to us about his future,” Pakistan’s interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar said, calling on Trump to ”treat sovereign states with respect.”
“The peanuts the US has actually given us in return should not be used to threaten or browbeat us into following Trump’s misguided vision of foreign policy. Trump’s statement shows not only his insensitivity but also his ignorance about Pakistan.” Nisar added.
By most accounts, US taxpayers have actually been forced to cough up more than $33 billion to Pakistan in direct aid and in reimbursements for counterterrorism efforts through “coalition support funds,” ostensibly for its support in the war on terror. That includes $3.8 billion in “foreign military financing” (FMF) funds, subsidy that Pakistan uses to buy military hardware like F-16s that have actually little relevance versus terrorists.
Some lawmakers have actually wised up to Pakistan’s perfidy in pretending to fight versus terrorists while nurturing them. Last week, they moved to block the administration’s proposal for a $ 430 million subsidy that would certainly have actually enabled Pakistan to buy eight f-16s and allied hardware for less than $ 30 million apiece instead of a sticker price closer to $ 100 million.
That has actually caused Pakistan, which has actually elevated the aging 40-year old fighter jet to a near mythical status, to go nuts.
Its de facto foreign minister Sartaj Aziz warned that if the US did not fund F-16s, Pakistan would certainly look for other options. “If funding is arranged, Pakistan will get the F-16s, otherwise we will opt for jets from some other place,” Aziz was quoted as saying in the Pakistani media.
Pakistan has actually often used the China bait to wangle money and military hardware from Washington, where some believe denying Islamabad crumbs would certainly only push it into Beijing’s sphere of influence.