“In the context of recent events in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, this is further evidence of the growing mistrust of Pakistan, not only in counterterrorism efforts but also in proliferation issues, a long time point of contention between the two nations,” Akins added.
The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan has been especially fraught since President Donald Trump brought in the New Year with a string of tweets attacking Pakistan. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. announced that it would cut nearly all security aid to Pakistan until Islamabad began doing more to crack down on the Taliban networks operating within its borders.
The inclusion of seven Pakistani entities on the Department of Commerce’s list could also negatively impact Pakistan’s ability to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an international alliance of countries that aim to promote the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. Diverse countries like Australia, China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom are all part of the group, as is the United States. Pakistan has long aimed to join the group in order to gain further legitimacy on the international stage, but some experts say that goal is a long way off for Islamabad.
“Pakistan says it demonstrates responsible nuclear behavior, but these sanctions demonstrate that things have not changed enough. There is a lot of duplicity. And I think the Nuclear Suppliers Group was always out of reach for them. That was a far-fetched goal,” Bharath Gopalaswamy, director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, told Newsweek.
Pakistan’s reputation on the international stage will likely suffer from the inclusion of the companies—none of which are well-known—on the list, experts say. But that’s unlikely to force the country to change its behavior dramatically.
“Though these measures will have some problematic reputational consequences for Pakistan, we shouldn’t overstate their impact,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center, told Newsweek.
“Let’s face it, these sanctions won’t magically prompt Pakistan to change its behavior in ways that address US demands and expectations,” Kugelman added.