US aid to Pakistan shrinks amid mounting frustration over militants

A State Department contractor adjust a flag before a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Pakistan's Interior Minister Khan on the sidelines of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism at the State Department in Washington

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s continued support for resurgent militant groups hostile to the United States, coupled with warming US military and business relations with India, is sharply diminishing Islamabad’s strategic importance+ as an ally to Washington, US military, diplomatic, and intelligence officials and outside experts said.

The United States has cut both military and economic aid+ to Pakistan sharply in recent years, reflecting mounting frustration among a growing number of officials with the nuclear-armed country’s support for the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

That frustration has dogged US-Pakistan ties for more than a decade, but has spiked anew as the militant Islamic group has advanced in parts of Afghanistan that US and allied forces once helped to secure, US officials and analysts say.

“We’re seeing a very definitive and very sharp reorienting of US policy in South Asia away from Afghanistan-Pakistan and more towards India,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert with the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think-tank.

The US relationship with Pakistan+ has long been a transactional one marked by mutual mistrust, marriages of convenience, and mood swings.

The long-standing US frustration with Pakistan+ ‘s refusal to stop supporting the Taliban, especially within the US military and intelligence community, is now overriding President Barack Obama’s administration’s desire to avoid renewed military involvement in Afghanistan, as well as concerns that China could capitalize on fraying ties between Washington and Islamabad, the US officials said.

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