USA freezes over $1 bn military aid to Pak over terror inaction

05 January, 2018, 13:45 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Pakistan criticises 'shifting goalposts' after US aid suspension

Nauert told reporters that the suspension will remain in effect until Pakistan "takes decisive action" against groups, such as the Taliban, that are "destabilizing the region and targeting US personnel".

The army spokesperson's reaction came as the USA withheld Dollars 255 million in aid to Pakistan following United States President Donald Trump's tweet castigating Islamabad for providing safe havens to terrorists.

After a harshly worded New Year's Day tweet by President Trump accusing Pakistan of "deceit" and of harboring terrorists, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed Thursday that the USA will suspend most security assistance to Islamabad.

Initially vague information on how much money and materiel was being withheld suggested the primary goal was to substantiate President Donald Trump's surprising New Year's Day tweet that accused Pakistan of playing US leaders for "fools".

The U.S. State Department announced the decision, saying it reflected the Trump administration's frustration that Pakistan has not done more against the two groups that Washington says use sanctuaries in Pakistan to launch attacks in neighboring Afghanistan that have killed U.S., Afghan and other forces.

Pakistan's officials "work with us at times, and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan", said Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations.

The widely reported data collected from us and Pakistan government agencies suggest a huge chunk, around $14.5 billion, has gone to the Pakistani military for covering its claimed costs of anti-terror operations. But cutting funding to Pakistan will do little to advance US interests in the region, analysts note.

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Pakistan also said that it had been receiving the financial assistance from the United States as a reimbursement for helping the World in eradicating terrorism.

Trump's frustrations are shared by some US lawmakers, who accused Pakistan of playing a double game by allowing militant groups sanctuary - which Islamabad denies - despite promising to crack down on them.

The rhetoric has raised hackles in Islamabad and fears the row could undermine Pakistan's support for U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

There has been a 62% decline in security aid from the the United States of America (USA) to Pakistan over the last five years, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of data released by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS). The $33 billion Trump referred to represents all US military and economic aid to Pakistan since 2002.

During an interaction with Pentagon reporters, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis did not respond to question if he was in favour of cutting off the aid to Pakistan.

The financial aid started flowing soon after the 9/11 attacks on NY and Washington, following 11 years of sanctions over Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.

Pakistan was engaged with the US administration on security cooperation and awaited further detail, it said.

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There have been hints of a Pakistan aid cut by the Trump administration for months.

Earlier on Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson placed Pakistan on a "Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom".

In August, he was more forthright and warned that Pakistan "has much to lose" if ig persisted in aiding terrorists.

But he said it could be a backup plan in response to the Indo-Pacific strategy of the USA and its allies.

But Pakistan's foreign ministry issued a cautious statement in which it said it was "engaged" with U.S. officials and awaiting further details.

Currently, the USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation depend on Pakistan for logistical support for their operations in Afghanistan, a key part of fighting terrorism.

Pakistan has long rejected accusations that it fails to tackle the militants battling the Kabul government and USA -led foreign forces in Afghanistan, from sanctuaries on its side of the border.

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