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Monday, October 15, 2012

Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance

Susan B. Epstein
Specialist in Foreign Policy

K. Alan Kronstadt
Specialist in South Asian Affairs

The 112th Congress has focused on measures to reduce the federal budget deficit. This backdrop may continue to influence congressional debate over a top-ranking U.S. aid recipient, Pakistan—a country vital to U.S. national security interests but that some say lacks accountability and even credibility as a U.S. ally.

Pakistan has been among the leading recipients of U.S. foreign assistance both historically and in recent years. The country arguably is as important to forwarding U.S. security interests as any in the world. Developments in 2011 put immense strains on bilateral relations, making uncertain the future direction of U.S. aid to Pakistan. Disruptions included the May killing of Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani city and a November NATO military raid into Pakistani territory near Afghanistan that inadvertently left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead. For many lawmakers, the core issue remains balancing Pakistan’s strategic importance to the United States with the pervasive and mounting distrust in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, as well as with budget deficit-reduction pressures.

U.S. assistance to Pakistan has fluctuated considerably over the past 60 years. In the wake of 9/11, however, aid to Pakistan increased steadily as the Bush and Obama Administrations both characterized Pakistan as a crucial U.S. partner in efforts to combat terrorism and to promote stability in both Afghanistan and South Asia. Since 1948, the United States has pledged more than $30 billion in direct aid, about half for military assistance. Two-thirds of this total was appropriated in the post-9/11 era from FY2002 to FY2011. Many observers question the gains accrued to date, viewing a lack of accountability and reform by the Pakistani government as major obstacles. Moreover, any goodwill generated by U.S. aid is offset by widespread and intense anti-American sentiment among the Pakistani people.

In 2009, Congress passed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-73). The law authorizes the President to provide $1.5 billion in annual nonmilitary aid to Pakistan for FY2010 through FY2014 and requires annual certification for release of security-related aid; such conditionality is a contentious issue. Congress also established two new funds in 2009—the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund (PCF) within the Defense Department appropriations and the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund within the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations—to help build Pakistan’s counterinsurgency capabilities. When $1.5 billion in “coalition support fund” military reimbursements are added to economic and security aid totals, the United States provided a total of $4.3 billion for Pakistan for FY2010 alone, making it the second-highest recipient after Afghanistan. In addition to these ongoing programs, the United States pledged about $700 million in a response to extensive mid-2010 flooding in Pakistan.

In its Second Session, the 112th Congress considered and, in some cases, enacted further conditions and limitations on assistance to Pakistan. Among these was a new certification requirement in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74). Moreover, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 (P.L. 112-81) would withhold 60% of any FY2012 appropriations for PCF unless the Secretary of Defense reports to Congress a strategy for the use of such funds and the metrics for determining their effectiveness, among other provisions.

This report will be updated as warranted by events. For broader discussion of U.S.-Pakistan relations, see CRS Report R41832, Pakistan-U.S. Relations, by K. Alan Kronstadt. See also CRS Report R42116, Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Aid Conditions, Restrictions, and Reporting Requirements, by Susan B. Epstein and K. Alan Kronstadt.

Date of Report: October 4, 2012
Number of Pages: 48
Order Number: R41856
Price: $29.95

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