In numerical terms, the United States remains the largest source of bilateral aid to Pakistan. For FY2010, the United States budgeted approximately $1.2 billion in economic assistance to Pakistan. The administration’s $1.5 billion funding request for economic assistance to Pakistan for FY2011 exceeded the $1.39 billion requested for combating climate change, the $1.3 billion for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the $861 million for disaster relief worldwide, and it is about half of the entire global health budget of USAID (taken from “What the United States spends in Pakistan, Center for Global Development, USA)
And, according to the State Department’s requested FY2013 budget, some $928.3 million has been requested to “focus on programs to help Pakistan address its energy challenges, increase economic growth including agriculture, help stabilize border areas, and improve delivery of social services, particularly education and health.
Also, the relatively magnanimous funding stream from the World Bank, the IMF (which lent almost 12 billion dollars between 2008-2010), and the Asian Development Bank became possible also because of the goodwill of the United States, meaning thereby that Washington holds the key to international financial assistance to Pakistan and it can pull the plug whenever it deemed fit.
But it cannot, this is what power brokers in Islamabad believe. They think the ground lines of communications (GLOCS) running through Pakistan remain extremely crucial for the American and NATO pullout from Afghanistan, even ahead of the July 2014 deadline. This belief rests on arithmetic, which suggests that the cargo via the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) costs double that of the Pakistani route. But does the cost really matter to the sole super power and the top seven wealthy nations of the world?
The alliance is already sending some 75 per cent of ground sustainment cargo via the Georgian – Azerbaijan – Latvia - Russian NDN, according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee released in December last year.
Although the NDN supply route is far more expensive, and allows non-lethal supplies only, in all probability, if push came to shove, the US-NATO nations would most probably stick to it rather than remaining hostage to the uncertain Pakistan route. Seen in the context of the alliance’s geo-political objectives, a few billion dollars worth of additional cost would hardly matter for the three dozen nations that are currently engaged in Afghanistan.
The greater cumulative political and economic loss would be Pakistan’s; besides international diplomatic isolation, total suspension of US-NATO cargo via Pakistan means substantial loss of employment opportunities for more than 20,000 families.
We know this and that is why we are trying to convince the opposition that resumption of GLOCs is in Pakistan’s political and economic interest too,” said an extremely highly placed official. If we can help the US-NATO forces pullout via Pakistan, this could perhaps also lead to some stabilization in Afghanistan, said the official, pointing to the Afghan insurgents and its Pakistani supporters, who claim that foreign troops’ presence in Afghanistan is fueling the current conflict.
Is there any middle ground then? “The Middle Ground is for both to appreciate the respective limitations and the new realities (in Pakistan) as well as concede that compulsions of American domestic politics keeps spoiling the broth with every new elections, as Sherard Cowper-Coles, former British envoy to Kabul, wrote in his memoirs Cables from Kabul.