Proposal to Reprogram Pakistani Military Aid into F-16s Generating TensionAug 05, 2008 17:50 UTC
On June 30/08, “US GAO Criticizes CSF Aid to Pakistan” discussed some of the tensions inherent in US aid to Pakistan, which has totaled several billion dollars since 2001. In addition to accounting and documentation issues, there have also been several instances in which the Pakistani military’s priorities and uses of its funds have diverged from the counter-terror focus intended by the US government.
Pakistan’s current status as a country with a larger and more active insurgency than Iraq’s has two seemingly paradoxical effects. On the one hand, it raises the stakes when “Coalition Support Funding” and other counter-terror aid is used for other military efforts or prestige projects instead. On the other hand, because the stakes are so high given Pakistan’s ownership of nuclear weapons, the USA’s leverage for dealing with questionable appropriations is reduced to some extent. Aid to Pakistan has always been as much about keeping its military and government on side as it has been about dealing with the Al-Qaeda/Taliban networks that currently control significant sections of the country along the Afghan border.
In late July 2008, all of these tensions exploded into view, as Pakistan proposed to redirect 2/3 of its 2008 aid into modernizing its older F-16 fighter fleet. The PAF wants to bring all of its F-16s to a standard that’s comparable to the new F-16 Block 50/52 aircraft it’s about to receive. The US State Department acquiesced; but Congress seems to be of a different mindset…