Sputnik: Government officials in Washington – including the president himself – have spoken, especially recently, about how cutting aid to Pakistan is in the US’ national security interests, but how so exactly?
Ashok Swain: I think what is going on in US politics shows that no such thinking process behind all of these sorts of utterances. Of course, Trump tweeted at the start of the month and then senator Rand Paul, he also brought out another tweet that Trump supported, and now the senator has brought a motion in the Senate to cancel aid to Pakistan and to use that aid for the infrastructural development of the United States. I think this idea that Pakistanis are burning the American flag are not using the aid and not helping the United States and didn’t help to find Bin Laden; these are all right-wing propaganda, which don’t really look carefully at what the problem is, and I think it just explains the whole mind-set and political immaturity which exists in American politics right now.
Ashok Swain: Well yes, nobody is saying that that doesn’t happen. The Pakistani Government is not only one set of actors; it’s a combination of actors. The military and the Inter-services Intelligence Agency has its own interest and has its own kind of infrastructure to do things, whereas the political leadership have their own interests, the political opposition has its own interests, and then society also has different stake holders in it. So, to just put Pakistan in one bracket, will be difficult.
You are absolutely right that Pakistan has not acted as one unit of going against the terrorist groups in Pakistan, has the record of supporting terror groups, and also Pakistan has the record of supporting terror groups and promoting terror groups in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. There’s no doubt about that. But also at the same time Pakistan has been a party to a lot of problems because of the American presence in Afghanistan. Pakistan has been suffering for a long time, because of the US’ bad policy in Afghanistan. That’s why Pakistan has suffered. So the money which has come to Pakistan, the $33 billion which Trump has spoken about, that figure is absolutely not aid, it has been for the number of services which Pakistan provides for the American axis in Afghanistan.
Ashok Swain: First of all, I doubt the funding will be cut. However I think the process itself would create a lot of challenges in the region, particularly because US control or influence in Pakistan, which was trying to create certain kind of balance in the south Asia region, or the larger south Asia region if we bring Afghanistan into it [would decrease]. If the Americans decide to withdraw [the aid], or even the process itself, will bring Pakistan much closer to China, which is already close, but it will cement the relationship. Pakistan’s relationship will also be much improved with Russia. But the real challenge will be the Pakistan-China axis and that will not be good for India, for the United States, nor good for Afghanistan.
The views and opinions expressed by Ashok Swain are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.