"Experts commonly list Pakistan among the most strategically important countries for U.S. policy makers. The 112th Congress has grappled with deeply troubled and even deteriorated U.S.- Pakistani relations, as well as the need to balance Pakistan's importance to U.S. national security interests with U.S. domestic budgetary pressures. In the post-9/11 period, assisting in the creation of a more stable, democratic, and prosperous Pakistan actively combating religious militancy has been a central U.S. foreign policy effort. Global and South Asian regional terrorism, and a decade-long effort to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan, are viewed as top-tier concerns. Pakistan's apparently accelerated nuclear weapons program and the long-standing dispute with India over Kashmir continue to threaten regional stability. Pakistan is identified as a base for numerous U.S.-designated terrorist groups and, by some accounts, most of the world's jihadist terrorist plots have some connection to Pakistan-based elements. With anti-American sentiments and xenophobic conspiracy theories remaining rife among ordinary Pakistanis, persistent economic travails and a precarious political setting combine to present serious challenges to U.S. decision makers. […]The United States has provided significant foreign aid to Pakistan over the nearly 65 years since that country's independence, but at levels that fluctuated widely. Major aid flows during some periods and drastic cuts in others contributed to creating a perception among many in Pakistan that the United States is not a fully reliable ally. At the same time, some U.S. lawmakers continue to question providing large amounts of aid to a Pakistani government that is seen as an unreliable partner in U.S. counterterrorism efforts efforts--as evidenced in 2011 by revelations that Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden found refuge in a Pakistani city for several years and that the Haqqani Network of Afghan insurgents may continue to receive support for Pakistan's main intelligence service. To many, Pakistan also appears incapable of providing sustainable economic development and security for its own people, and often is unaccountable to the United States for aid results. Beyond these issues, some question whether the aid results in public diplomacy benefits for the United States."
CRS Report for Congress, R41856