Daniel R. DePetris
The Beltway foreign-policy establishment needs to snap itself out of the delusion that the Pakistanis will change their stripes.
Ask a veteran foreign-policy hand in Washington to sum up the U.S.-Pakistan relationship in one word, and “frenemy” would likely be at the very top of the list. The term is a clever metaphor explaining the ups and downs of the two nations’ partnership. Depending on the circumstances or the issue at hand, Washington and Islamabad can either be partners working in concert or adversaries.
President Donald Trump has taken the “frenemy” term and ditched any reference of Pakistan being a friend to the American people. In his first tweet of the New Year, Trump stated that “[t]he United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” A week later, Trump made good on his words by freezing as much as $ 1.2 billion in security assistance to Islamabad.
This isn’t the first time Trump has called out Pakistan for its behavior in a public forum, nor is it the first time a U.S. president has chosen to use purse-string threats to force a change in behavior.