Funds due to Pakistan will be frozen but not cancelled, says US

Kristopher Drake
January 10, 2018

The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes after President Donald Trump in a New Year's Day tweet accused the country of giving nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for US$ 33 billion aid over the last 15 years."The US does have a range of tools that we're looking at beyond just the security assistance issue to deal with Pakistan and to try to convince it to crack down on the Taliban and Haqqani network", a senior Trump administration official told reporters.

The State Department's declaration Thursday signaled growing frustration over Pakistan's level of cooperation in fighting terrorist networks.

McMaster, an Army lieutenant general who served in Afghanistan, has been a key driver of the Trump administration's efforts to strengthen its stance against Pakistan.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the restrictions covered security assistance above and beyond the $255 million for Pakistani purchases of American military equipment that the administration held up in August.

"Pakistan remains an important country in the region and in the world and has historically been a vital partner for the USA", the official said.

Probably not. Trump's White House has not yet discussed the equally important Economic Support Fund through which Washington has given Islamabad $11.1 billion since 2002.

The decision to cut funding comes just several days after President Donald Trump tweeted his disappointment with Pakistan, claiming that the US got nothing but "lies and deceit" for the $33 billion in aid the USA gave Pakistan between 2002 and 2018.

Trump unveiled in August a South Asia strategy aimed at ending the stalemate in the U.S. war in Afghanistan, now entering its 17th year.

"It has been more than four months since the President's speech, and despite a sustained high-level engagement by this administration with the Government of Pakistan, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilize Afghanistan and also attack US and allied personnel", noted the DOS spokeswoman.

USA civilian assistance programmes in Pakistan are not included in the suspension and exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis if they are "determined to be critical to national security interests", administration officials said.

Pakistan has long accused the US of being a fickle ally.

Another statement on Friday rejected the USA decision to add Pakistan to a special watch list for violations of religious freedom, pursuant to 2016 legislation.

The State Department announced that it's placing the South Asian nation on a special watch list, pursuant to 2016 legislation. The step does not carry any serious consequences.

Sources privy to the discussion at the meeting said Asif told lawmakers, "Trump was speaking in the language of India".

A Pakistani motorcyclist rides over images of President Donald Trump and a USA flag on a street in Lahore.

In response to the Trump administration's aid cuts, Pakistan's opposition leader Imran Khan has urged Islamabad to expel some American diplomatic personnel and cut off supply routes for the U.S./NATO-led coalition forces as well as close its airspace to American troops.

The policy is not about looking at Pakistan through the lens of Afghanistan, but it is about looking at the entire region and the future of the United States, he said. "Whether Pakistan will cooperate after the aid freeze remains to be seen", the paper said.

The tweet drew a strong reaction from Islamabad and saw the summoning of the USA ambassador to the Foreign Office of Pakistan in a rare public rebuke.

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. Earlier Thursday, Mattis said the policy on military aid to Pakistan was "still being formulated". But it could end up backfiring by diminishing the cooperation between the US and Pakistan to combat terror groups in the region.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under ground rules for briefing reporters, said the suspension was born of frustration with watching Pakistan mount operations against militants hostile to Pakistan but offer safe haven to groups that attack Americans. Pakistan has increasingly turned for economic support to northern neighbor China, which is investing tens of billions in transportation links and power generation as it extends its strategic footprint across Asia.

The move drew a stern backlash in Pakistan and a staunch defence of Islamabad in Beijing - a dynamic that experts said highlights the further strengthening of the relationship as the USA seeks closer ties with India while "casting aspersions on Pakistan", the Global Times said. He said Pakistan could fall back on Saudi Arabia and China for military supplies, but it still depends on the United States for certain types of high-end equipment.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

Discuss This Article