Economic and military aid to Pakistan has declined on Obama’s watch. Support for aid in Congress has declined significantly as the extent of Pakistani support for terrorist activity has become clear. The Abbottabad raid that killed bin Laden was a turning point; it dramatically illustrated how little Pakistan was doing to help fight al-Qaida (or worse, assisting it). Congress no longer rubber stamps aid requests. Some on the Hill argue Pakistan should be listed on the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism. President George H. W. Bush seriously considered that option in 1992; his three successors did not.
Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. This month, Pakistan successfully tested a submarine launched cruise missile (SLCM) for the first time. The Babur-3 SLCM has a range of 450 kilometers and provides Pakistan with a secure second strike capability. Pakistan is expanding its submarine fleet with Chinese assistance. The United States has no effective policy toward Pakistan’s nuclear program.
The president never visited Pakistan in his tenure. His cabinet officials gradually cut back visits to the country. Attention to Pakistan seemed to fade in the last years of the administration. The incoming administration has to deal with a nation of almost 200 million people armed with a fully-tested nuclear arsenal which is both a victim and a patron of terrorism.
Pakistan has been at the root of crisis for the last several administrations. Bill Clinton faced nuclear tests and a dangerous border war in 1999 with India; George W. Bush was surprised by 9/11 and another Indo-Pakistan crisis; and Obama dealt with Mumbai and Abbottabad. The next administration will likely be tested early.