U.S. suspends security aid to Pakistan over militant groups

Jan 05, 2018, 12:23
U.S. suspends security aid to Pakistan over militant groups

Trump tweeted that there will be "no more" U.S. aid to Pakistan.

At the same time, Nauert made it clear that the U.S. action has nothing to do with Pakistan not taking action against the Mumbai terror attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed.

In August, while unveiling his new South Asia strategy, Trump had accused Pakistan of giving "safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror", and said the time had come "for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace".

One senior State Department official was slightly more pointed: "They have not made decisive action on our requests, so the decision was made to take this step as one step to indicate that we can not continue business as usual with the Pakistani government if they're not going to be a partner with us".

"We've been very clear about our displeasure with that individual being let go, and that's why we like to remind people that there is a $10 million "Rewards for Justice" program out for him", she said.

Pakistan has pushed back strongly at Trump's intemperate language, raising concerns that to row could undermine Islamabad's support for U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

The United States said on Thursday it was suspending an undisclosed amount of security assistance to Pakistan, which two officials said was worth more than $255 million, until Islamabad takes action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.

Tense ties between the uneasy allies nosedived on January 1 when US President Donald Trump lashed out on Twitter against Islamabad's "lies and deceit" despite $33 billion in aid and the White House warned of "specific actions" to pressure Pakistan.

But the National Defense Authorisation Act permits the United States military to spend up to $900 million in the 2017 financial year and $700 million in financial 2018.

Two months later, however, Trump praised Pakistan with a tweet, writing, "Starting to develop a much better relationship with Pakistan and its leaders". He said Pakistan could fall back on Saudi Arabia and China for military supplies, but it still depends on the US for certain types of high-end equipment. For fiscal year 2017, which ended on September 30, 2017, it has authorized up to $900 million in CSF, which falls under Pentagon authority.

The move comes days after President Trump attacked the amount of aid Pakistan has received from the US over the years. The CSF funds also compensate Pakistan for allowing the US-led coalition forces access its airfields and ports to provide supplies and logistics in their deployment in Afghanistan.

Those groups "continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilise Afghanistan and also attack the United States and allied personnel", she said. The administration is now holding up $255 million in military assistance for Pakistan until it cracks down on extremists threatening Afghanistan. "They have to take decisive steps", she added.

In August, he was more forthright and warned that Pakistan "has much to lose" if ig persisted in aiding terrorists. "All this funding is available to Pakistan, if they undertake to take the measures that we've asked of them", a senior administration official said in response to a question. "What matters I think to the Pakistanis is that it is the symbolism of doing this that it represents a deterioration of our relationship that they care about a great deal", the official said.

But US officials accuse Pakistani officials of ignoring or even collaborating with groups that launch operations into Afghanistan from safe havens along the countries' border.

"So we were hoping that this is an incentive that they don't want to see this relationship deteriorate any further and that they're going to commit to working with us to try to find a way to put it on a more solid footing", the official added.

Yesterday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had placed Pakistan on a special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom.

President Donald Trump has been insisting that Pakistan clean up its act for a while now and had earlier also threatened to penalise the nation for not taking the necessary steps when it comes to fighting terror.