US Suspends Most Security Assistance To Pakistan

Pakistan       by Mahmood Idrees | Published

Pakistan by Mahmood Idrees | Published

"Until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, we consider them to be destabilizing the region and also targeting U.S. personnel, the United States will suspend that kind of security assistance to Pakistan".

Later that month, the administration notified Pakistan that it was delaying a payment of $255 million in military aid, pending progress against Haqqani network militants who the USA says are based in Pakistan and aid the Taliban.

Pakistan is anxious about the influence of old rival India in Afghanistan, and at the same time has been battling a Pakistani Taliban insurgency that Pakistan says was largely fueled by its support for the US war on terrorism launched after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

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.

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 USA leaders for "fools".

Nauert said that if Pakistan took decisive action against terrorists, it "has the ability to get this money back in the future".

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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. "All this funding is available to Pakistan, if they undertake to take the measures that weve asked of them", one official said.

"Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing common threats", the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement.

He also repeated long-standing allegations that the country provides "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan".

But despite the provocations, the USA does not want to completely rupture its relationship with Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment already runs high. That $255 million is included in the suspended aid announced Thursday by Nauert.

Pakistan was engaged with the US administration on security cooperation and awaited further detail, it said. The country received more than $1 billion in US assistance in 2016.

The United States has been threatening for months to cut aid to Islamabad over its failure to crack down on groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, which it says operates from bases in Pakistan's northwest.

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Observers say Jiwani could be a pressure tactic by Pakistan as China is already developing Gwadar where earlier reports said Beijing plans to station its marines.

Ayaz Sadiq said the most important point of the meeting was that all parliamentary parties had shown national spirit by voicing unity over national security and nobody did politics over the issue.

The $255 million now being withheld is annual military aid that the United States still provides directly to Pakistan in return for fighting terrorism. It accused the USA of scapegoating Pakistan for its own failure to bring peace to Afghanistan.

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

Since then, US economic aid to Pakistan has totaled around $33.4 billion since 2002.

Hours before the tweet, a US Special Forces soldier had been killed in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, and four were injured in a terrorist attack.

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