President Trump has announced his first $1.1 trillion budget, and many at home and abroad are not too happy with the changes proposed. Cuts on environment, climate change, arts, science research and foreign aid and spending have been proposed, with thousands of jobs in each sector jeopardised as a result. The UN is particularly concerned, as it feels that massive cuts are likely to threaten it the most – the US’ contribution to UN’s programmes is more than significant.

It is important to understand however, that the White House budget is essentially a political roadmap the President of the time intends to follow, which means that many of the proposed cuts may not happen at all. The Congress has the real keys to the purse, and this is just the first stage of formulating a new budget for the US. But some of the cuts will take place, and it seems that the cuts in foreign aid and spending might be on the top of this list; an issue for which the Congress might not fight too hard against the President over.

For Pakistan, the key concern is obviously the cut in foreign spending, which might spell an early end for monetary assistance from the US. But at the same time, it might not. An increase in military spending has also been proposed, and Mr Trump’s promise to fight and end ISIS has not been forgotten. If the US is planning on eradicating the IS threat, then it cannot do so alone, and help never comes for free. Out of the proposed increase of $54 billion, fighting allies should certainly get a share. Pakistan must stress that its involvement comes at a cost – a cost borne by its people in the form of lives and property lost.

Ultimately, it is the Congress that approves the final budget, and apart from the Democrats, many Republicans have also voiced their concern against all the cuts, and things that should have been cut but aren’t. It is also important to understand that the Trump administration is looking to take (their version of) a pragmatic approach to foreign policy. The US government will only look to cut federal spending on foreign missions that are not perceivably beneficial to US foreign policy interests. Pakistan has always been a significant ally. The only question is of whether the Trump administration sees it as such – a question for which no one in government on either side currently seems to have an answer to.