By Shamil Shams
The Trump administration has slashed its foreign military assistance to Pakistan and is contemplating converting it into a loan in its budget. Does it imply the US no longer needs Pakistan's counterterrorism support?
A significant reduction to the military aid will see Pakistan receiving $100 million for the 2018 fiscal year, but the White House has left it to the State Department to decide whether it should be given in the form of a grant or a loan. The current 2017 fiscal would end on September 30.
Last year, the US assistance to Pakistan under the State Department budget was $534 million, which included $225 million in foreign military funding.
"The Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for Pakistan would be provided in the form of a loan guarantee," said Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management of Budget in the White House.
Mulvaney added that in its maiden budget, President Donald Trump's administration proposed to convert its FMF program to many countries from aid to financial loan. Pakistan is one of them. "Whether the funding is provided through grants, or as a subsidy for a guaranteed loan, is an option the State Department can exercise to ensure our foreign assistance best supports our national interests," the White House said.