Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

More US Military Aid to Pakistan: It Can Only Do So Much

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

More US Military Aid to Pakistan: It Can Only Do So Much

Article excerpt

President Obama offered $2 billion in military aid to Pakistan this week. It's an incentive for it to more aggressively fight Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda. But bigger factors -- such as India -- make Pakistan hesitate.

President Obama has just offered $2 billion in additional military aid to Pakistan as an incentive for it to forcefully rid its country of terrorists that threaten Afghanistan and the United States.

What should be clear by now - nearly a decade since 9/11 - is that aid sweeteners don't have a great record in changing behavior in what is arguably the most pivotal country in the global antiterrorism fight.

After all, Pakistan has already received nearly $11 billion in direct US aid (between 2001 and 2008). And this week's five-year package of military aid comes on top of a five-year, $7.5 billion package of civilian aid.

The US has long pushed for a more serious Pakistani antiterrorism effort, and yet key Islamic terrorist organizations continue to find refuge in the country's western border area.

This does not mean, however, that American aid is misguided. Historic flooding in Pakistan has indeed distracted its military resources, spreading them thin. And America's civilian aid, approved by Congress last year, tries to cut off the roots of terrorism by improving the lives of poor Pakistanis - by building schools, infrastructure, and democratic institutions.

Both of these aid tools, combined with stepped-up, high-level diplomacy across a whole range of issues - from women's rights to agriculture - show America's strategic commitment to Pakistan.

That's important considering Islamabad's possession of nuclear weapons. The interconnected network of terrorists that operate from Pakistan would love to get their hands on such weapons.

US aid to Pakistan serves a useful purpose, especially over the longer term. But it shouldn't be seen as a way to switch on Pakistani intensity in the antiterrorism effort. …

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