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June 26, 2017

Art of the Possible

Restructuring the Defense Relationship with Pakistan

By Stephen Tankel

Introduction

Pakistan is not a front-burner issue for the administration of President Donald Trump, but it remains a major contributor to the security challenges facing the United States in South Asia. This is most immediately felt in Afghanistan, where President Trump is considering sending 3,000 to 5,000 more troops on top of the almost 10,000 already there.1 There is considerable frustration with Pakistan on Capitol Hill and among career officials in the executive branch over the country’s ongoing support for various militant groups, including the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, and production of tactical nuclear weapons.2 Members of Congress and committee staff are thinking through how to reform the U.S.-Pakistan defense relationship. Several prescriptive reports and articles, including one by the author, have argued the United States should consider a tougher line with Pakistan.3

There are no silver bullets when it comes to Pakistan, whose behavior has implications for the United States beyond Afghanistan. Rather than attempt to alter Pakistan’s behavior radically in the near term – something that has proven impossible, thus far – the aim should be to optimize the rate of return on the relationship while avoiding a rupture. This report seeks to inform the debate over Pakistan in two ways. First, instead of advocating the current practice of putting unrealistic conditions on large assistance packages, this report posits a more focused and realistic policy of positive conditionality. It also discusses how changes in assistance could be paired with escalatory coercion. Second, discussions about Pakistan often revolve around how hard and on which issues to push without delving into the actual policy reforms necessary to implement changes. This report broadly outlines how the legislative and executive branches could implement recommended policy changes. 

Part I of this report assesses U.S. national interests in South Asia and the strategic environment in the region, and then provides a brief overview of security assistance and arms sales to Pakistan since 9/11, paying close attention to failed attempts to condition assistance and the difficulties of scoping it appropriately. Part II first prescribes a more nuanced and comprehensive approach for the U.S.-Pakistan defense relationship. It then provides a more granular analysis for how Congress and the executive branch could coordinate to implement such an approach. 

Part I: Strategic Overview

U.S. Interests in Pakistan

The United States has two vital security interests in Pakistan: ensuring militants in the region do not attack the U.S. homeland, and keeping militants from getting their hands on nuclear material.4 America also has a critical interest in preventing Indo-Pakistani nuclear escalation and terrorist attacks against U.S. persons and infrastructure in the region. Maintaining a sufficient counterterrorism presence in Afghanistan has been a cornerstone of the broader U.S. counterterrorism policy. This, in turn, has required ensuring the Afghan government retains sufficient control over its territory.

Since 9/11, U.S. security objectives regarding Pakistan have focused primarily on securing counterterrorism cooperation against al Qaeda and access into Afghanistan to supply coalition forces there. The United States also supported Pakistan’s counterinsurgency efforts against its own jihadist insurgency, which U.S. policymakers feared might destabilize the nuclear-armed state. Although one should not expect America’s vital interests to change, evolving conditions on the ground present the United States with new opportunities and potential challenges.

The Strategic Environment in South Asia

Pakistan’s Strategic Calculus

Although another military coup is unlikely in Pakistan, the country’s military leaders have developed other, more subtle means for maintaining influence over state policy. The military remains preoccupied with countering India, which it considers an existential threat to the state. India is perceived to be using Afghanistan as a base to support separatists in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and Islamist militants at war with Pakistan. Afghan leaders are believed to be involved in this proxy war as well. Pakistan is at a major military and economic disadvantage vis-à-vis India. As a result, the military continues to rely on state-allied militant groups to counter Indian regional hegemony, force India to negotiate over the disputed Kashmir region and create leverage for any future negotiations, and facilitate the creation of a government in Afghanistan that is friendly to Pakistani interests. Pakistan’s nuclear capability still provides a deterrent against an Indian conventional response to terrorist attacks by Pakistan-supported terrorist groups. This has long been the case, but Pakistani decisionmakers believe they need a broader and more significant nuclear capability to deter India in light of the latter’s conventional military planning.

Pakistani decisionmakers believe they need a broader and more significant nuclear capability to deter India in light of the latter’s conventional military planning.

Pakistan’s internal security challenges have contributed to debates with the military and the wider security establishment over the viability of maintaining state-allied groups for use in Afghanistan and against India. On the one hand, there is a growing recognition that supporting state-allied groups to achieve short-term gains vis-à-vis India and Afghanistan has pernicious long-term consequences for Pakistan. On the other hand, even leaders who may believe that state-supported militants are close to outliving their utility fear the consequences of turning against them. Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who was appointed as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in November 2016, is said to consider violent extremism to be a bigger threat to Pakistan than India.5 However, this does not mean he is dovish on either India or Afghanistan. Viewing violent extremism as a major threat also does not mean he will share U.S. understandings of the problem or perspectives about how to combat it. Moreover, even if Bajwa is committed to reducing tensions with India or moving against state-allied groups, he will confront powerful interests intent on maintaining the status quo. The COAS may be the most powerful person in Pakistan, but he is still constrained: by state-allied groups that may act as spoilers with the country’s neighbors; by the intelligence operatives who liaise with them; by a population raised on animosity toward India; and by the other military leaders on whom he relies for support. In short, U.S. policymakers and analysts should plan for continuity while remaining open to the possibility for change.

Terrorism and Counterterrorism in Pakistan

The utility that militant organizations provide against India, in Afghanistan, or at home, combined with perceptions about the threats they might pose, informs how the state treats them. Certain Islamist militant organizations also have political utility. The military and its Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) use various forms of active support combined with coercive mechanisms when necessary to maintain awareness of and influence with state-allied groups. Perceptions about the controllability of these groups inform how they are treated.6

Pakistan has made counterterrorism gains in recent years, retaking control of territory in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and driving many anti-state militants across the border into Afghanistan. Terrorist attacks declined by 48 percent in 2015 over the previous year, although Pakistan was still ranked fourth among countries most affected from terrorism that year, according to the Global Terrorism Index. The situation improved further in 2016 with a reported 28 percent decline in acts of terrorism from the previous year. This still amounted to approximately 450 terrorist attacks across Pakistan that killed roughly 900 people.7 The security forces expanded their efforts against groups that previously might have been categorized as “frenemies.”

Pakistani special forces train in Miran Shah February 17, 2007 in the tribal area of North Waziristan, Pakistan.

Getty Images

There is no indication of expanding counterterrorism operations to target state-allied groups like the Taliban, the Haqqani Network (HQN), or Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The first two collaborate with al Qaeda and with anti-Pakistani organizations, especially against Afghan forces across the border. State-allied groups are not only useful against India and in Afghanistan. The military and ISI have also used the Taliban and HQN to reorient anti-state Islamist militants toward fighting in Afghanistan. LeT has been used to degrade anti-state militants and also against Baloch separatists.8

Pakistani officials argue that actions against state-allied groups will come as Pakistan implements its National Action Plan (NAP), which was passed in 2014 and delineated 20 points necessary for dismantling the militant infrastructure.9 Yet progress on implementation has been minimal. Following a wave of terrorist attacks in February 2017, the Chief of Army Staff announced a new counterterrorism operation theoretically based on the NAP. It remains too early to assess progress, but past experiences suggest the need for skepticism. Even if the security establishment wanted to dismantle the militant infrastructure, doing so would be a costly, long, and painful process. Counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan remains important. The United States still needs intelligence sharing and access to Pakistani airspace for drone strikes and for supply purposes in Afghanistan. The core al Qaeda organization has been seriously degraded. Parts of its remaining infrastructure have shifted to Afghanistan and some leaders have migrated to countries in the Middle East.10 The military’s operations in FATA and activities of the intelligence services throughout Pakistan have made it more difficult for core al Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), and the Islamic State of Khorasan Province  (ISKP) to operate there.11 Yet there is little evidence to suggest that Pakistan conducts these operations to please the United States. Moreover, absent a rupture, intelligence cooperation is likely to continue, provided it benefits both countries. If so, the United States could conceivably press Pakistan harder on its support for state-allied groups.

Afghanistan

The Pakistan Army remains committed to shaping the future Afghan government in order to make it friendly to Pakistan and reduce India’s presence and influence in Afghanistan. The nature and extent of state support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network is difficult to assess, but there is no evidence that Pakistan is prepared to end its practice of providing them sanctuary. Widespread Pakistani perceptions of Indian and Afghan support for anti-Pakistan groups based in Afghanistan reinforces its policy of backing the Taliban and Haqqani Network.  Ending support and safe haven for them would not only sacrifice a powerful instrument for shaping the endgame in Afghanistan, but could also lead to increased attacks in Pakistan. In 2014, when Pakistan launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, its long-awaited military incursion into the North Waziristan tribal agency, civilian and military officials promised they would no longer differentiate between “good” militants and “bad” ones.12 In reality, the Haqqani Network, which was headquartered in North Waziristan, was tipped off before Zarb-e-Azb began and conveniently relocated once the operation got underway.13

Pakistan’s provision of sanctuary for the Taliban-led insurgency remains the largest, but hardly the only, impediment to degrading or defeating it.

Pakistan’s provision of sanctuary for the Taliban-led insurgency remains the largest, but hardly the only, impediment to degrading or defeating it. Political disunity in Afghanistan and high levels of corruption are also major contributing factors. Although Kabul is not in danger of falling, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are struggling to hold ground since U.S. and NATO forces drew down. It is unclear how long they can sustain battlefield losses at the current rate. Although the Taliban is increasingly fragmented politically, they control more territory than at any time since 2001.14 Al Qaeda, AQIS, and ISKP exploited the situation to expand their operations in Afghanistan.15 U.S. and Afghan efforts rolled back ISKP, but the dangers that Taliban gains might enable the ISIS affiliate to regenerate or al-Qaeda to reconstitute its transnational attack capability remain. Simultaneously, the international consensus on Afghanistan that held since 2002 has eroded.

While Pakistan still supports the Taliban-led insurgency, it simultaneously continues to provide ground and air access for resupply and retrograde of equipment to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The United States currently has approximately 8,500 troops in Afghanistan. They are augmented by approximately 4,000 more troops, primarily from NATO countries. There is less of a need for access than when the United States and NATO had tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan. However, it is unclear how long resupply and retrograde could be maintained if this access were removed entirely.16

For the past three years, the U.S. mission has focused on targeting al Qaeda, ISKP, and any other terrorists that could directly threaten the American homeland or U.S. persons and infrastructure overseas. The narrowness of the mission makes it easier to achieve and to sustain. However, the ability to conduct this mission — at least in its current form — is contingent on a friendly Afghan government remaining in control of its territory. President Trump is considering sending 3,000 to 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Although the precise troop numbers and particulars of their deployment are still being mapped out, all indications are that these additional forces would not directly contribute to the counter-terrorism mission. Rather, they would be used for advisory missions to shore up the Afghan government forces fighting against the Taliban.

It is unclear whether the White House has determined that buttressing the Afghans against the Taliban is necessary to achieve U.S. counter-terrorism objectives, is intended to shape conditions for a possible future political settlement, or expand American influence.17 China, Russia, and Iran are playing a bigger role in Afghanistan than in the past.18 All three countries may be more amenable to allowing for a stronger Taliban presence there than the United States would find acceptable.19 Sending additional U.S. forces to advise and assist Afghan government forces theoretically could help the United States regain influence and perhaps shape a future settlement. However, this presumes the administration has thought through not only what an acceptable endgame would be, but also how simply blunting Taliban gains — as opposed to sufficiently weakening the movement — achieves it. Pakistan, which remains critical to any settlement, has repeatedly spoiled attempted negotiations with the Taliban that it perceived would not serve its interests.20 Yet the potential for growing Russian and Iranian support to the Taliban could also further weaken Pakistani influence over the movement.

U.S. soldiers and Afghan border police hike from their landing zone to Observation Point 12 along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, on January 21, 2013. The soldiers are assigned to the 101st Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team.

Department of Defense

India

Pakistani support for India-centric groups, specifically LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad, continues.20 New Delhi is responding with increasing tactical assertiveness. In 2014, India launched a disproportionately large artillery bombardment along the line of control that separates Indian- from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.21 LeT and JeM militants executed three high-profile attacks against hard targets in India between July 2015 and September 2016.22 After the third attack the Indian government decided to launch and then to publicize commando raids across the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir. Both sides increased cross-LoC firing, including the use of artillery.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made thinly veiled threats about cutting off Pakistan’s water supply. His National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, threatened to support Baloch separatists if Pakistan-supported actors executed another major terrorist operation in India along the lines of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. In addition to these types of actions, there are other military operations that Indian forces could execute to punish Pakistan and attempt to deter future attacks. The problem is that any Indian actions that would be sufficient to accomplish this objective could also cross Pakistan’s red line and lead to war. Pakistan’s lack of a no-first-use pledge and development of tactical nuclear weapons lowers the threshold at which a conventional war could go nuclear. Thus, although India is increasingly assertive at the tactical level, beyond that it remains restrained. The danger is that escalating tit-for-tat violence spins out of control.

Pakistan’s lack of a no-first-use pledge and development of tactical nuclear weapons lowers the threshold at which a conventional war could go nuclear.

Nuclear Issues

If Pakistani production of nuclear weapons continues at its current estimated pace, the country could have the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile within a decade. In the span of several weeks in early 2017, Pakistan test-fired a surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of delivering multiple nuclear warheads (using multiple independent reentry vehicle or MIRV technology) and its first submarine-based nuclear-capable missile.

Two developments are especially noteworthy. First, Pakistan continues to make progress on nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. In 2015, it test-fired the Shaheen-III, which has a maximum range of up to 1,700 miles and would be able to strike any location in India. Depending on its placement, the missile would also be capable of reaching Israel.24 Although Pakistan has not yet developed the missile technology to strike the United States, the ability to do so would change the balance of power between the two countries. Second, Pakistan is developing tactical nuclear-capable “Nasr” ballistic missiles for battlefield use in order to deter a limited Indian military response to terrorist attacks by Pakistan-supported militants. The common concern about Pakistani nuclear weapons is that they are vulnerable to internal threats. In reality, these weapons are most likely to fall into terrorists’ hands if forward-deployed during a conflict with India. Even some Pakistani analysts recognize that it would be difficult for the Pakistan military to ensure the full security of these weapons once they were deployed in the field.25

History of U.S. Security Assistance and Arms Sales

The United States imposed sanctions on Pakistan during the 1990s because of its nuclear weapons program and in response to the military coup. In return for counterterrorism cooperation, including access to Afghanistan and help hunting down al Qaeda, the United States lifted these sanctions after 9/11. Since then the United States has provided Pakistan with billions of dollars in economic and security assistance and sold it billions of dollars in arms, using foreign military financing (FMF) to subsidize sales in some instances. Some of the armaments were not useful for counterterrorism and were clearly acquired for use against India.26

According to the State Department, FMF funds have been “solely for counterterrorism efforts, broadly defined” since 2005.27 The term “broadly defined” is a critical qualification because some of the weapons platforms and armaments could also have utility in a conventional war against India.  For example, Pakistan purchased 18 new F-16C/D Block 52 combat aircraft, the first of which were delivered in 2010. Additionally, Pakistan used FMF to obtain eight P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and to subsidize the purchase of 60 Mid-Life Update kits for F-16A/B combat aircraft that it already possessed .28 Pakistan has used the F-16s it purchased for precision strikes against anti-state militants. However, these aircraft are fast-movers that potentially could be equipped to carry a nuclear payload in a war against India. Pakistan already may have adapted its P-3C Orions for land-attack missions.29

F-16s from the Pakistan Air Force fly near a KC-135 Stratotanker after refueling during an Exercise Red Flag mission, July 21, 2010, at Nellis Air Force, Nevada. Approximately 100 Pakistan Air Force F-16B pilots and support personnel are participating in Red Flag.

U.S. Air Force

Pakistan has received billions in Coalition Support Funds (CSF) reimbursements in addition to assistance and arms sales. CSF was created after 9/11 to reimburse countries for their contributions to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reimbursements were theoretically used to pay for Pakistani military efforts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that support the U.S.-led counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan. In reality, U.S. policymakers viewed CSF as an inducement to keep the GLOCs open and as potential tactical lever to influence Pakistan’s behavior vis-à-vis counterterrorism cooperation.30 Security assistance and CSF continued flowing even after Pakistani cooperation against al Qaeda declined around 2005 and its support for the Taliban, Haqqani Network, and Lashkar-e-Taiba became the subject of pressure from top U.S. officials.

Table 1 provides a snapshot of U.S. security assistance administered by the Departments of State and Defense. The figures represent money obligated with expenditures in parentheses where available. Amounts are in millions. The government does a poor job of tracking how money is spent. Figures below were gathered from Security Assistance Monitor, the Congressional Research Service, and interviews with various offices across the interagency

Table 1

ProgramsFY2002-2008FY2009FY2010FY2011FY2012FY2013FY2014FY2015FY2016
FMF1,566300
(295)
298
(178)
295
(194)
295
(219)
280
(127)
254
(60)
254
(-)
255
(allocated)
PCF/PCCFN/A400
(125)
700
(160)
800
(380)
452
(380)
N/AN/AN/AN/A
CSF6,6976851,4991,1186881,4381,1981,000
(713)
900+
100
650
IMET112.3
(2)
5
(4.5)
4
(2.8)
4.9
(4.1)
4.9
(4.2)
4.9
(4)
4.8
(3.2)
4.8
(1.6)
CN135
(134)
47
(25)
43
(N/A)
39
(N/A)
181823N/A
CTFP522222221
Section 1206 (Global Train and Equip)173139-------
INCLE270
(183)
104
(105)
139
(117)
111
(61)
30
(9)
45
(17)
55
(9)
38
(19)
6
(5)
NADR53
(35)
13
(5)
17
(15)
13
(10)
8
(4)
10
(1.3)
---

Abbreviations:

CN: Counternarcotics funds; CSF: Coalition Support Funds; CTFP: Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program; FMF: Federal Military Financing; IMET: International Military Education Training; INCLE: International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (includes border security); NADR: Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related (the majority allocated for Pakistan is for anti-terrorism assistance). PCF/PCCF: Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund/Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund; Section 1206: Section 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2006.

Conditioning Security Assistance and CSF

In 2009 President Barack Obama offered Pakistan a strategic relationship and promised that, “America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent.”31 This commitment was intended to make Pakistani leaders feel more secure and thus reduce their perceived need to rely on non-state militants or produce more nuclear weapons. The offer of a strategic relationship was backed up by bipartisan congressional legislation. The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 (commonly called the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act or KLB) authorized up to $1.5 billion annually in non-military assistance for five years and “such sums as may be necessary” for security assistance.32

KLB was supposed to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to Pakistan beyond the narrow confines of counterterrorism and show that the U.S. partnership with Pakistan was not just with its military but also with its citizenry. Authorizing $7.5 billion for civilian aid also theoretically created space for U.S. officials to withhold FMF and other forms of security assistance flowing to the military without risking accusations of abandonment. KLB prohibited security assistance and arms transfers unless the secretary of state certified that the Pakistani security forces were not subverting the political or judicial processes, that Pakistan was continuing to cooperate with U.S. efforts to dismantle nuclear weapons–related material supplier networks, and that Pakistan was demonstrating progress toward combating the Taliban and LeT, among others.33 However, KLB also included a provision allowing the executive branch to waive certification on national security grounds. In 2011, the secretary of state issued the first and only certification that Pakistan was in compliance, despite considerable evidence to the contrary. Thereafter, the administration repeatedly waived certification.

After a series of events in 2011, including the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and an accidental clash in which NATO troops killed Pakistani forces at two Pakistan military checkpoints, the relationship cratered. Pakistan closed the GLOCs and the United States froze CSF.34 Both countries walked back from the precipice and began attempts to repair the relationship in 2012. The FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) prohibited CSF reimbursements for the roughly seven-month period when the GLOCs were closed and mandated that future reimbursements were contingent on Pakistan keeping the GLOCs open.35 Congress also legislated that Pakistan could not receive CSF unless the secretary of defense certified that security was being maintained along the GLOCs and that Pakistan was making demonstrable efforts both against al Qaeda and other militant groups and countering the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan.36 The secretary of defense, in coordination with the secretary of state, may waive these conditions if it is in the U.S. national security interest to do so.37 Multiple secretaries exercised this right and waived certification requirements.

Fuel tankers, which were used to carry fuel for NATO forces in Afghanistan, are seen parked in a compound in Karachi, Pakistan, on July 10, 2012.

Getty Images

Congress added a new condition on CSF after the Pakistan military launched Zarb-e-Azb, the long-awaited military operation in the North Waziristan tribal agency in spring 2014. It made $300 million of the $1 billion it authorized for CSF contingent on certification by the secretary of defense that Pakistan’s military operations in North Waziristan significantly disrupted the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani Network.38 Critically, Congress stipulated certification could not be waived. The FY 2016 NDAA retained this model and raised the amount withheld to $350 million, while simultaneously reducing the total CSF allotment for Pakistan to $900 million. An additional $100 million was added back in for “stability activities” in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, bringing the total back up to $1 billion.39 The secretary of defense did not certify and the FY15 funds have since been reprogrammed. It is safe to assume the same will be true for the FY16 funds. So far, the loss of $650 million in reimbursements has not prompted Pakistan to turn on the Haqqani Network.

Narrowly Scoped, Broadly Defined

The concept of narrowly scoped security assistance has remained open to interpretation. As frustration has grown, Congress became more parsimonious. In 2016, the Obama administration promised Pakistan FMF funds to help offset the purchase of F-16s. The rationale for this decision was never clearly articulated in public. According to some administration officials, the Pakistan military had used its F-16s for counterinsurgency / counterterrorism (COIN/CT) purposes at America’s behest and this put wear and tear on the aircraft. Subsidizing the new-buy F-16s was intended to positively reinforce good behavior. Notably, a similar argument was made for using FMF to pay for mid-life upgrades in 2008. This time, Congress rejected the proposed use of FMF funds.

In a letter to then-Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), made clear his opposition to any taxpayer dollars being used to support this sale, given that Pakistan continued to provide safe haven to terrorist groups and refused to target the Haqqani Network. Corker stopped short of blocking the sale, however, on the grounds that preventing the purchase of U.S. aircraft would create opportunities for countries like Russia and China to sell to Pakistan while also inhibiting greater cooperation on counterterrorism.40 According to congressional staff and former administration officials, other members shared Corker’s aversion to allowing Pakistan to use FMF. There was also a sense that because Pakistan was mainly targeting indigenous militants at war with the state that it had sufficient incentive to use its own resources to purchase the aircraft. It was unclear at the time of this writing whether the sale would go through. Congressional holds on other items, including attack helicopters and precision-guided munitions that have real counterinsurgency utility and would be less useful than F-16s in a war against India, also remained in place.

Part II: Policy Recommendations

Art of the Possible

Coercive diplomacy worked after 9/11 to secure Pakistani assistance for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Incentives helped to facilitate counterterrorism cooperation against al Qaeda. Maintaining a coercive posture proved impossible once the initial shock of the attacks subsided and Pakistan began cooperating with the United States. This remained true even as cooperation declined because policymakers were understandably loath to risk losing the assistance Pakistan was providing. In lieu of coercion, the United States attempted to use a mix of incentives and conditions on security assistance and CSF reimbursements to convince Pakistan to stop supporting militant groups in Afghanistan or against India. This failed. The United States suffers from an asymmetry of interests. The future of Afghanistan is more important to Pakistan than it is to America. The same is true when it comes to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and to its security competition with India and support for terrorist groups.

Pakistani obstinacy – on Afghanistan, India, support for terrorism, and the production of nuclear weapons – has fueled frustration and eroded support for the bilateral relationship. U.S. policymakers and independent experts are looking for ways to raise the costs on Pakistan, especially for its ongoing support to terrorist groups. This readiness to get tougher comes at a time when Pakistani leaders believe they need the United States less than in the recent past. Beijing’s promised investment of over $60 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has bred new confidence among Pakistani leaders.41 In addition to offering economic investments, China recently provided Pakistan with a medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system and plans to supply it with up to eight submarines over the next decade.42 China's increasing influence and role in Pakistan has geopolitical implications for U.S. foreign policy toward Pakistan. 

Congress and the Trump administration should reduce the scope of the defense relationship in order to improve the return on investment and rebalance the overall bilateral relationship in favor of the civilian government. 

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, has said there is a need for a "holistic review" of the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, potentially signaling the desire for a harsher policy than the United States has taken hitherto.43 Pressing for sweeping changes in Pakistani security policy is unlikely to yield results even if the United States suddenly got much tougher. Instead, Congress and the Trump administration should reduce the scope of the defense relationship in order to improve the return on investment and rebalance the overall bilateral relationship in favor of the civilian government. Congress should transition from placing unrealistic conditions on large assistance packages to the more targeted use of positive conditionality. Coercion comes with risks in terms of decreased cooperation, Pakistani retaliation, and damage to U.S. credibility if Washington blinks first. If U.S. policymakers nevertheless want to impose costs, then they should consider escalatory coercion rather than jump immediately to major punitive actions.

Reduce and Rebalance

The United States should maintain funding for the Pakistan military’s participation in the International Military Education Training (IMET) program. FMF, which has totaled $265 million annually since 2015, should be held constant at most or marginally reduced. Its use should continue to be scoped narrowly. The emphasis should be on weapons systems that have COIN/CT utility (F-16s) rather than systems designed for conventional combat (attack helicopters). For several years policymakers have been considering various glide slopes that end CSF reimbursements. It is well past time one is instituted. Reimbursements have a distortive impact on the relationship in two important ways. First, the United States secures access and cooperation from numerous countries without providing them hundreds of millions of dollars in CSF reimbursements. Second, CSF is presently subsidizing Pakistani operations against militants that threaten the state and that Pakistan would likely conduct if reimbursements ceased.

While reducing the scale of the defense relationship, the United States must look for ways to increase the efficacy of civilian assistance in order to help promote better civil-military balance in Pakistan. Security sector reform is a slow process and Pakistan’s deficiencies in this area are manifold.44 The military has sometimes been an impediment to U.S. efforts to use civilian security assistance to build stronger law enforcement and judicial institutions. Nevertheless, the United States should continue offering aid in these areas. The priority should be on institution building or using assistance as a force multiplier in areas where Pakistan has a discrete and pressing need. U.S. officials might consider further reducing FMF and offering to offset the decrease with increased civilian security assistance.

On economic and development aid, the United States and Pakistan agreed in 2011 on a five-sector strategy (energy, economic growth, stabilization, education, and health) that would guide assistance. These are long-term endeavors that will require persistent focus to build the capacity of underperforming government institutions. At the same time, without sufficient conditions on economic assistance, civilian leaders are likely to continue avoid painful but necessary reforms. This not only applies to U.S. assistance, but also to aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Pakistan has not effectively implemented many of the IMF’s recommended economic reforms, especially those intended to address rampant tax evasion. To encourage these reforms and improve national and provincial governments’ capacity to deliver services, the United States could more fully embrace a cash-on-delivery assistance model that connects disbursements to progress toward agreed results. The administration must to be prepared to encourage and help enforce IMF conditions on any new agreement (if there is one). Although U.S. policymakers understandably worry about undermining the civilian government, they should hold the line on reforms. Moreover, if the United States is supportive of any new IMF agreement it might consider matching some U.S. economic conditions to that agreement.

To encourage these reforms and improve national and provincial governments’ capacity to deliver services, the United States could more fully embrace a cash-on-delivery assistance model that connects disbursements to progress toward agreed results.

Finally, the administration should get rid of special positions created specifically for Pakistan. The Office of the Defense Representative, Pakistan (ODRP) should be transitioned into a smaller and more traditional security cooperation office under the purview of the Defense Attaché (DATT). This would reduce the U.S. defense footprint in Pakistan. Similarly, the president should direct the State Department to jettison the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). This position might have made sense when the United States had a heavy troop presence in Afghanistan and a more robust relationship with Pakistan, but these two countries no longer merit a “special representative.” Getting rid of the SRAP would enable the State Department to deal with the region holistically by bureaucratically reintegrating Afghanistan and Pakistan with South and Central Asia.

Positive Conditionality

No offers of security assistance are likely to change the Pakistani military’s strategic calculus. Efforts to condition assistance unilaterally have failed to alter its behavior. Conditionality only works if the costs to the recipient of losing out on assistance are greater than those that eventuate from changing the behavior in question. It is also necessary for the patron to be prepared to accept the consequences of enforcement. This has not been the case. The United States has made maximalist demands from the perspective of the Pakistan military, whose leaders have been prepared to forgo assistance and CSF reimbursements rather than risk breaking with state-allied militant organizations. Pakistani military leaders also calculated correctly that American officials would blink first.

It is impossible to know whether conditioning assistance would have worked more effectively if the previous administration had not exercised its right to waive certification or Congress had not given it the option. There are two reasons why attempting to test this proposition now are unrealistic. First, it would require another large assistance package to make the costs on Pakistan worthwhile. Second, it would require Congress to pass legislation that denied the current administration waiver authority or the administration to decline to use that authority if granted it. In addition to these two barriers, there is another problem with placing maximalist conditions on all security assistance. Pakistan still supports and enables certain terrorist groups, but it is also actively fighting others. Withholding all assistance would mean the United States could not support counterterrorism it wants to encourage. Waiving certification lets Pakistan off the hook for ongoing bad behavior.

Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify on Afghanistan and Pakistan at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC, June 23, 2011.

Department of Defense

Instead of attempting to promote major changes in Pakistani behavior by unilaterally imposing conditions on all security assistance, it would be more realistic to use positive conditionality to promote tactical shifts that alter conditions on the ground. Nailing the proper alignment between conditions and actions is critical. Set the bar too low and the point of introducing conditions is lost. Set the bar too high and Pakistan will leave assistance on the table. The next section discusses various mechanisms for how this might work. Important here are the two ways in which this approach would differ from the one already tried. First, smaller amounts of assistance would be tied to specific, realistic, and measurable benchmarks. Second, negotiating metrics in advance with the Pakistan government and military could help minimize chances of fudging on Pakistan’s part or caving by the United States. Even if this approach fails to yield progress, pegging assistance to realistic requests with clear metrics provides an opportunity to reinforce U.S. credibility by withholding aid when benchmarks are not hit without immediately curtailing the entire assistance package. This could provide space for escalation.

Coercive Mechanisms

Some policymakers and experts have called for sanctioning military and ISI officials who are intimately involved in promoting terrorist groups, or labeling Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. The problem with sanctioning individuals is that it fails to address the political and structural conditions that inform Pakistani policies, while simultaneously creating conditions for rogue actors in Pakistan to seek retribution against U.S. persons living there. One bad incident could derail the relationship.

A state sponsor of terrorism designation is a blunt instrument that carries with it a wide range of sanctions, including not only a ban on arms-related exports and sales, but prohibitions on economic assistance and the imposition of other financial restrictions.45 Thus, a designation could effectively sever the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. In the near-term, the United States would need to be prepared to forgo all counterterrorism cooperation, including intelligence sharing and access for drones, and to lose access for resupply and retrograde of equipment into and out of Afghanistan. U.S. and NATO forces there would likely face an even more hostile Pakistan. Isolating Pakistan could also lead it to engage in even more bad behavior that might catalyze a crisis with India. Moreover, in addition to these likely consequences, there is considerable uncertainty over whether labeling Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism would actually lead it to stop supporting terrorist groups.46 A designation could actually undercut would-be reformers within the Pakistani security establishment. In the medium to long term, the penalties that come with being labeled a state sponsor of terrorism would make it difficult to engage Pakistan even if it began to move with more alacrity in the right direction on terrorism or evinced willingness to reform on the nuclear front.

In the medium to long term, the penalties that come with being labeled a state sponsor of terrorism would make it difficult to engage Pakistan.

Washington should not take the threat of designation off the table, but starting smaller enables space for escalation and de-escalation, depending on Pakistan’s behavior, conditions on the ground in South Asia, and evolving U.S. objectives. Escalating slowly also enables the United States to use the imposition of costs as a way of signaling potential future actions, which in and of itself could help compel Pakistan to comply with certain requests. However, escalatory coercion is not without risks. First, using benchmarks to guide requests will be easier in areas that require public actions, or can be assessed via the open source, than in areas where the United States might risk exposing sources and methods to hold Pakistan accountable. Second, communicating the consequences if Pakistan does not act automatically introduces more friction into the relationship. Third, actually deploying punitive measures risks retribution. For instance, it is possible that as the United States escalates, Pakistan will reduce intelligence sharing or encourage state-allied groups to undertake bigger attacks in Afghanistan.

U.S. policymakers could conceivably manage the risks inherent with escalatory coercion by developing and communicating clear red lines. A slow escalatory process provides time to reinforce red lines and for both countries to find an off-ramp if necessary. However, if the United States repeatedly blinks first, then U.S. credibility could be damaged. In other words, escalating and then deescalating could make things worse. Thus, the administration and Congress should not start down this path unless both branches have established two end points for escalatory coercion: one where the United States has achieved a realistic objective, and another where the risks to U.S. interests in the region outweigh the damage to U.S. credibility if the United States backs away from the escalatory cycle. If U.S. policymakers are not clear about where they stand on these points, then their best course of action might be to jettison coercion and focus exclusively on positive conditionality. 

How the Rubber Hits the Road

Revamping Security Assistance

This report has recommended the use of targeted, positive conditionality in place of attempting to use security assistance and CSF as blunt instruments to change Pakistan’s behavior. To put this approach into practice, Congress should consider creating separate streams of assistance.47

The first stream would provide assistance for areas where the United States and Pakistan share common objectives and there is considerable convergence between the two countries in terms of how assistance is used. Congress would scope this assistance narrowly on counterinsurgency/counterterrorism and calibrate it to Pakistan’s absorption capacity, but would not attach legislative conditions.48 The administration would support this effort by negotiating a new roadmap with the Pakistan military for how security assistance from this stream would be used. For example, U.S. officials might tie the ongoing provision of FMF to a certain piece of equipment or weapons system. The United States has already had some success tying the provision of tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided (TOW) missiles to their measurable use against insurgents in the FATA.49 A key facet of this effort is that it focuses on providing specific goods that other countries do not manufacture, thereby enabling the United States to control the flow of these goods based on Pakistan’s behavior. These goods must also be consumable, unlike a weapons platform that can be reused and is not easily taken back.

A second stream would be directed toward areas where the United States and Pakistan agree on objectives, but diverge over how to achieve them or prioritize them. This signals to Pakistan that the United States is interested in expanding cooperation and not just increasing leverage.

Rather than authorizing aid and then withholding it if Pakistan did not take action, Congress would identify actions Pakistan is considering and then incentivize them. In other words, congressional conditions for this second stream would focus on how assistance is used rather than what it is used for. For example, Pakistan’s National Action Plan for fighting terrorism pledges to freeze all funding sources of terrorist groups, ban the glorification of these organizations, dismantle their communication networks, and take concrete steps against the promotion of terrorism through social media.50 Accomplishing these objectives would entail a range of smaller, tactical steps that could be used as benchmarks for conditions.

Alternatively, Congress could legislate that this second stream of assistance be provided via a grant program modeled on those administered by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). As part of the normal aid process, the Pakistan military already identifies priorities, requests certain weapons systems or defense supplies, and makes a pitch for how it would use them. A MCC-like approach would take this a step further. In the MCC process, countries must meet certain criteria to qualify for funds and the monitoring of how this money is spent is typically rigorous and transparent. Applying this approach to a portion of overall assistance available would force Pakistan to make its case more robustly, give both sides more flexibility in how some assistance is used, and bring an added dose of transparency to the process because of the agreed-on metrics.

The administration would contribute to this effort by negotiating conditions with Pakistan or coordinating Pakistani applications for assistance if Congress went the MCC-like route. This would increase the chances of success and reduce possible irritants in the relationship since both sides would have a clearer understanding of expectations and desired outcomes. Conducting negotiations as part of the process to develop a new roadmap would demonstrate U.S. commitment in principle to providing this assistance and thereby subvert Pakistani claims that America was hectoring it.

If there was a sizable amount of security assistance remaining, then Congress could authorize a third stream to be used for a broader array of weapons systems, but with conditions that cannot be waived. Experience suggests this effort would be unlikely to succeed, but if the United States is prepared to enforce these conditions then at the very least it could help build credibility with Pakistan. Moreover, because of the existence of the first two streams, the United States would not be in a position of cutting off all security assistance.

Ending CSF

The administration and Congress should coordinate to design a glide slope that ends CSF reimbursements to Pakistan over a period of two years, with the total authorized amount reducing each year. A glide slope gives Pakistan warning that CSF will end, and insulates the United States from accusations of abandonment. It would also provide time to renegotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to keep the GLOCs and air lines of communication (ALOCs) open if necessary. In the interim, the administration might consider working with Congress to revise the reimbursement categories. These currently focus on provisions for items such as food, water, ammunition, and fuel for military operations that Pakistan would conduct anyway. U.S. money would be better spent incentivizing stabilization activities in the FATA or promoting other actions that Pakistan’s military understands are necessary but does not prioritize. Ultimately, revising the reimbursements categories is of secondary importance. The most important action at this stage is to end a program that has outlived its purpose and become a poster child for the unsustainable nature of the military-military relationship. Indeed, if the administration proves unwilling to collaborate on winding down CSF, Congress should do it regardless.

Employing Escalatory Coercion

There’s nothing wrong with a 'good cop, bad cop' approach, provided it’s a coordinated one. However, the administration and Congress too often have been at odds with one another over attempts to compel Pakistan to change its behavior. As noted previously, escalatory coercion could be useful if applied methodically and in line with clear, realistic, and measurable requests. This would necessitate the executive and legislative branches to work together, but each could play its own part when it comes to actually imposing costs. It is possible to envision three categories of action. As noted earlier, employing these actions are not without risk. The United States should not start down this path unless it is prepared to see it through or risk its credibility for failing to do so.

There’s nothing wrong with a “good cop, bad cop” approach, provided it’s a coordinated one. However, the administration and Congress too often have been at odds with one another over attempts to compel Pakistan to change its behavior.

The first category would entail actions that the administration is best positioned to take and that can be repeated. For example, the White House could develop releasable evidence (that does not compromise sources and methods) of Pakistan’s material support for terrorist groups. In addition to the shaming aspect, this would signal to Pakistan that the United States is building a case toward possibly designating it a state sponsor of terrorism in the future. As with releasing declassified intelligence, the use of direct action is also within the purview of the executive branch. If the drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was done entirely unilaterally, this suggests the United States has the capability to disrupt the Pakistan military’s control of its proxies, stoke infighting among militants, and possibly promote instability inside Pakistan.51

The second category would entail actions where the administration and Congress need to cooperate more closely. For example, Congress theoretically could revoke Pakistan’s Major Non-NATO Ally status on its own, but given the severity of this action some coordination with the executive branch would be expected. The administration could also ask Congress to revoke this status. Short of this step, the two branches could work together to create a grading system for counterterrorism that might range from cooperative to partially cooperative to noncooperative. Legislation could tie designation as “partially cooperative” and “noncooperative” to various penalties that fall short of a full designation as a sponsor of terrorism. Penalties could include bans on certain exports or military sales or the withholding of certain forms of assistance. The idea would be to enable the United States to impose certain penalties while still allowing more engagement than is possible once a country is designated a state sponsor.52 In addition to the imposition of tangible punitive measures, designation of a country as partially cooperative or noncooperative on counterterrorism would also be a form of shaming and signaling. This legislation would not only be applicable for Pakistan and could be used for other countries that enable terrorism.

A third set of potential actions entail U.S. foreign policy steps that involve Pakistan’s neighbors, especially India. For example, U.S. officials (in Congress and/or the administration) could announce publicly that if terrorist attacks occur in India then America will publicly put the burden of proof onto Pakistan to show it has taken steps against the group responsible and has not supported the operation. If Pakistan cannot provide sufficient exculpatory evidence, then America could take any number of the actions outlined previously. The administration could also seek to join with India to sponsor terrorist designations of certain Pakistani militant leaders at the United Nations. China likely would block these designations, but the symbolic effort would send an important message to Pakistan that the United States and India are united on the issue. Additionally, the executive branch could seek to work not only more aggressively, but also more overtly with India on various areas of counterterrorism.

Conclusion

In light of global priorities, the United States should focus primarily on continuing to secure vital interests in Pakistan and secondarily on avoiding a crisis in South Asia that distracts from pressing business elsewhere in the world. Doing so requires restructuring the military-military relationship with Pakistan in a way that controls its downward trajectory while simultaneously accounting for its transactional elements and preserving cooperation on shared objectives. This necessitates a more realistic approach to the use of conditions and a sober assessment of the risks and benefits of coercion. The recommendations outlined in this report also require the type of close coordination between Congress and the administration on Pakistan that has sometimes been lacking in recent years. Implementing these recommendations requires new ways of thinking about security assistance, congressional willingness to consider carve-outs, and an executive branch capable of administering them.

There are no magic bullets for solving the vexing problems related to working with Pakistan. The approach outlined here may have more utility on issues like militancy than in the nuclear realm. Even when it comes to militancy, this approach is unlikely to result in Pakistan ending all support for terrorism in the near –term. However, there is no approach that is likely to yield this result. The recommendations suggested in this report are grounded in the art of the possible. They would improve the U.S. rate of return on the relationship with Pakistan relative to America’s current position without risking a rupture or sacrificing the pursuit of vital national interests.

Endnotes

  1. Michael R. Gordon, “Trump Advisers Call for More Troops to Break Afghan Deadlock,” The New York Times, May 8, 2017.
  2. During a July 2016 joint hearing titled “Pakistan: Friend or Foe in the Fight Against Terrorism,” witnesses and lawmakers called for cutting off all financial and military aid to Pakistan and suggested it was time to consider officially designating the country a state sponsor of terrorism. “Pakistan: Friend or Foe in the Fight Against Terrorism?,” House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, 114th Cong., 2nd sess., July 12, 2016, https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/joint-subcommittee-hearing-pakistan-friend-foe-fight-terrorism/. See also Noor Zahid, “Congress Urged to Cut Off Financial and Military Aid to Pakistan,” Voice of America, July 14, 2016.
  3. Husain Haqqani and Lisa Curtis, A New U.S. Approach to Pakistan: Enforcing Aid Conditions Without Cutting Ties (Washington: Hudson Institute, 2017), https://hudson.org/research/13305-a-new-u-s-approach-to-pakistan-enforcing-aid-conditions-without-cutting-ties; Stephen Tankel, “Confronting Pakistan’s Support for Terrorism: Don’t Designate, Calibrate,” The Washington Quarterly, 39 no. 4 (Winter 2017), 165–179, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0163660X.2016.1262125; C. Christine Fair and Sumit Gangly, “An Unworthy Ally: Time for Washington to Cut Pakistan Loose,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 94, No. 5 (September/October 2015): 160-170.
  4. The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States, 2015.
  5. “Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa chosen as new army chief,” Dawn, November 27, 2016.
  6. For more on Pakistan’s treatment of militants, see Stephen Tankel, “Beyond the Double Game: Lessons from Pakistan’s Approach to Islamist Militancy,” Journal of Strategic Studies, June 16, 2016.
  7. “Pakistan Security Report,” PIPS Research Journal Conflict and Peace Studies, 9 no.1 (Spring 2017), 11–20.
  8. Tankel, “Beyond the Double Game.”
  9. “Aziz warns against moving too fast against militants,” Dawn, July 2, 2016.
  10. Eric Schmitt, “Al Qaeda Turns to Syria, with a Plan to Challenge ISIS,” The New York Times, May 15, 2016; and Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger, “As U.S. Focuses on ISIS and the Taliban, Al Qaeda Re-emerges,” The New York Times, December 29, 2015.
  11. See, for example, Office of the Director of National Intelligence (hereafter ODNI), “Letter from Usama bin Laden to Atiyah,” n.d., https://www.odni.gov/files/documents/ubl/english/Letter%20from%20UBL%20to%20Atiyah.pdf; and ODNI, “Letter to Usama bin Laden,” April 5, 2011, https://www.odni.gov/files/documents/ubl/english/Letter%20dtd%205%20April%202011.pdf.
  12. Kamran Yousaf, “Haqqani fighters won’t be spared either,” The Express Tribune, July 2, 2014.
  13. Saeed Shah, Safdar Dawar, and Adam Entous, “Militants Slip Away Before Pakistan Offensive,” The Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2014.
  14. Lynne O’Donnell, “The Taliban Now Hold More Ground in Afghanistan than at Any Point Since 2001,” Military Times, June 16, 2016.
  15. Dan Lamothe, “‘Probably the largest’ al-Qaeda training camp ever destroyed in Afghanistan,” The Washington Post, October 30, 2015.
  16. The Northern Distribution Network, which was a logistical route that ran through the former Soviet Union, has been closed down. The United States currently has no long-term alternatives to routing supplies through Pakistan.
  17. For more on questions related to the potential troop escalation see, Christopher Kolenda, “Seven questions Congress should ask about Trump’s mini-surge in Afghanistan,” The Hill, May 11, 2017; Stephen Tankel, “Back to First Principals: Four Fundamental Questions About Afghanistan,” War on the Rocks, May 15, 2017.
  18. Barnett Rubin, “It’s Much Bigger Than Afghanistan: U.S. Strategy for a Transformed Region,” War on the Rocks, April 25, 2017.
  19. Moscow hosted regional conferences on Afghanistan in December 2016 and February 2017 that the United States did not attend. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, “Press Release on Trilateral Consultations on Afghanistan in Moscow,” December 27, 2016; Suhasini Haider, “Moscow Takes the Lead,” The Hindu, February 18, 2017. Russia is also reportedly providing some assistance to the Taliban. Arif Rafiq, “Russia Returns to Afghanistan,” The National Interest, January 12, 2017.
  20. See for example, Kathy Gannon, “Moderate Taliban member speaks of rifts within movement,” Associated Press, May 15, 2012; Carlotta Gall, “Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government” The New York Times, December 6, 2016
  21. In January 2017, the Pakistani authorities raided the office of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is LeT’s main front group, and shut down centers where the organization was collecting funds. JuD soon resumed operations under a new name. See Rana Tanveer, “Days After Crackdown, JuD Appears with New Name,” The Express Tribune, February 4, 2017; and Sudha Ramachandran, “Pakistan’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa: New Name, Old Tricks,” Asia Times, February 7, 2017.
  22. Manoj Joshi, “Uri Attack: There Are No Military Options That Will Give India the Outcome It Wants,” The Wire, September 19, 2016.
  23. On these attacks, see Toufiq Rashid and Dhrubo Jyoti, “Kashmir’s Uri attacked: Why the key Indian Army base is on militants’ radar,” Hindustan Times, September 18, 2016; Ankit Panda, “Terror in Punjab: What Happened,” The Diplomat, July 29, 2015; and Harsh V. Pant, “India’s Terror Dilemmas: Responding to the Pathankot Atrocity,” January 11, 2016.
  24. “Pakistan Test-Fires Nuclear Capable Ballistic Missile,” Agence France-Presse, March 9, 2015.
  25. Talat Masood, “The Nuclear Security Summit and Pakistan’s perspective,” The Express Tribune, March 30, 2016.
  26. For instance, Pakistan purchased 500 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and 500 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
  27. “On-the-Record Briefing on U.S.-Pakistan Relations: Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs,” Washington, December 21, 2007.
  28. Susan B. Epstein and K. Alan Kronstadt, “Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance,” CRS R41856, (Congressional Research Service, July 1, 2013).
  29. Pakistan is known to have illegally modified Harpoon anti-ship missiles to extend their range to strike India. Epstein and Kronstadt, “Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance”; and Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger, “U.S. Says Pakistan Made Changes to Missiles Sold for Defense,” The New York Times, August 29, 2009.
  30. For more on CSF, see Stephen Tankel, “Is the United States Cutting Pakistan Off? The Politics of Military Aid,” War on the Rocks, August 31, 2015.
  31. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” West Point, NY, December 1, 2009.
  32. Although KLB authorized $1.5 billion a year, the United States only dispensed the full amount once (in FY2010). On average Pakistan received approximately $1.15 billion annually and some of that was spent on U.S. contractors to administered funded projects. U.S. Senate, Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, S.1707, 111th Cong. (2009), https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111s1707enr/pdf/BILLS-111s1707enr.pdf.
  33. Pakistan was expected to make progress on numerous areas related to the militants on its soil. The precise conditions can be found in the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009.
  34. Huma Imtiaz, “After U.S. says ‘sorry’ for Salala attack, Pakistan reopens GLOCs,” The Express Tribune, July 3, 2012.
  35. The conditions also required certification that Pakistan was not detaining Pakistani citizens, including Dr. Shakil Afridi, who unwittingly assisted with the Abbottabad raid, as a result of their cooperation with the U.S. government on counterterrorism efforts. See U.S. House of Representatives, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, Public Law 112–239, 112th Congress, January 2, 2013. See also Epstein and Kronstadt, “Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance.”
  36. The NDAA also made disbursement of Pakistan Counterinsurgency Funds conditional on certification that Pakistan was demonstrating efforts to counter IEDs and cooperating on counterterrorism efforts.
  37. The conditions on CSF were updated in fiscal year 2014 to include cooperating with U.S. counterterrorism efforts against the Haqqani Network and other militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and not supporting terrorist activities against the United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan.
  38. Carl Levin and Howard P. 'Buck' McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, Public Law 113-291, 113th Congress, December 19, 2014.
  39. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, Public Law 114-92, 114th Congress, November 25, 2015.
  40. Senator Bob Corker, “Letter to Secretary John Kerry,” February 9, 2016,  https://www.corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2016/3/corker-statement-on-u-s-sale-of-f-16-aircraft-to-pakistan. 
  41. Salman Siddiqui, “CPEC Investment Pushed from $55b to $62b,” Express Tribune, April 12, 2017.
  42. Gabriel Dominguez, “Pakistan Army inducts Chinese-made LY-80 SAM system,” IHS Jane’s 360, March 13, 2017; and Franz Stefan Gady, “China to Supply Pakistan with 8 New Stealth Attack Submarines by 2028,” The Diplomat, August 30, 2016.
  43. Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart, “U.S. General Calls for Review of Relationship with Pakistan,” Reuters, February 10, 2017.
  44. Stephen Tankel, Domestic Barriers to Dismantling the Militant Infrastructure in Pakistan (Washington: United States Institute of Peace, 2013).
  45. U.S. State Department, “Chapter 3: State Sponsors of Terrorism Overview,” Country Reports on Terrorism 2013,  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224826.htm.
  46. Tankel, “Confronting Pakistan’s Support for Terrorism.”
  47. This approach is adapted from Tankel, Domestic Barriers to Dismantling the Militant Infrastructure in Pakistan.
  48. A report by the RAND Corporation on the efficacy of assistance refers to this as identifying the right ladder and the correct rung. Christopher Paul et al., What Works Best When Building Partner Capacity and Under What Circumstances? (Arlington, VA: RAND Corporation, 2013).
  49. Although built for use against armored vehicles, the Pakistan military has used these missiles as a standoff weapon against militants.
  50. “20 Points of National Action Plan,” Pakistan National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), http://nacta.gov.pk/NAPPoints2... accessed May 17, 2017).
  51. Sameer Lalwani, “Killing the Emir: What We Know About the Strike That Killed Mansour and What It Says About Pakistan and the Taliban,” War on the Rocks, May 25, 2016.
  52. The secretary of state designates countries as state sponsors of terrorism pursuant to three laws passed by Congress: the Export Administration Act, the Arms Export Control Act, and the Foreign Assistance Act. The sanctions resulting from designation are extensive and include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales, controls over exports of dual-use items, and financial and other restrictions.


  • Stephen Tankel

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Asia-Pacific Security Program

    Stephen Tankel is an assistant professor at American University and a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. His next book – With Us and Ag...

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