In a highly unusual foreign policy move, the Obama administration has decided to sever all assistance to certain units of Pakistan’s army. The move comes in response to the airing of gruesome video footage on the Internet showing Pakistani soldiers executing prisoners and civilians during the army’s offensive in the Swat Valley earlier this year.
The government is required under the Leahy Amendment to cut off aid to foreign military units found to have committed gross violations of human rights.
Administration officials have informed a few senior members of Congress about the decision. But Pakistan’s government reportedly had not been told while a delegation of military and civilian leaders visited Washington.
The Pakistani military, which initially called the video a hoax, has ordered an investigation into the killings. During the Swat offensive, reports surfaced of soldiers committing hundreds of extrajudicial killings.
Tensions between Washington and Islamabad have been strained following an attack by NATO helicopters that killed three Pakistani paramilitary troops. The incident prompted Pakistan to retaliate by closing a critical supply route into Afghanistan that allied forces utilize.
None of this has stopped the Obama administration from asking Congress to commit $2 billion in military aid to Pakistan over the next five years, most of it to be used to purchase U.S.-made weapons.