January 20, 2018

USA suspends security assistance with Pakistan over Taliban attacks

05 January 2018, 01:42 | Kara Nash

US Holding Back Pakistan Security Aid

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"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 USA personnel, the United States will suspend that kind of security assistance to Pakistan".

Nauert made clear the $255 million was still blocked, and the Pentagon said the new action targets payments of so-called Coalition Support Funds that the US pays to Pakistan to reimburse it for its counterterrorism operations.

"Today we can confirm that we are suspending security assistance to Pakistan at this time", Nauert said.

Now, financially strapped Islamabad will be looking to fill a hole in its annual military budget with the Trump administration's announcement Thursday that it's suspending security assistance to the Pakistani military until it takes "decisive action" against the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network that are targeting USA personnel in Afghanistan.

On Monday, he tweeted that the United States had "foolishly" given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had gotten nothing in return but "lies & deceit".

Having an Afghan neighbor as an ally in the global war on terrorism was key to the USA ousting the terror groups that had set up training camps in Afghanistan, and Pakistan quickly became the third-largest recipient of United States military and economic support. She said while working with. But it could end up backfiring by diminishing the cooperation between the USA and Pakistan to combat terror groups in the region. In other words, a clear cut narrative has been framed to validate punitive action against Pakistan.

According to local media, more than 3,450 people have been killed in 417 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004.

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.

But despite the provocations, the United States does not want to completely rupture its relationship with Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment already runs high.

Responding to a question regarding the U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, Ghafoor said the country would respond to such acts according to the aspiration of its people. The country received more than $1 billion in US assistance in 2016.

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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.

Briefing reporters, US officials stressed the suspension did not affect civilian aid to Pakistan and that the money could go through if Islamabad took decisive action against the groups.

Already frosty relations between the USA and Pakistan -the two allies in the so-called war against terrorism- have further nosedived since President Trump assumed office in January previous year, mainly due to a clash of interests in Afghanistan.

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

In August, he was more forthright and warned that Pakistan "has much to lose" if ig persisted in aiding terrorists. That $255 million is included in the suspended aid announced Thursday by Nauert.

"It's north of $255 million", said one USA official.

Also Thursday, the State Department accused Pakistan of severe violations of religious freedom.

Bengali says Washington could make Pakistan's life more hard by using International Monetary Fund and World Bank forums to tighten up much-needed dollars for Pakistan.

Drone strikes have been a frequent tactic by the U.S forces since 2004 to target suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region, mainly North and South Waziristan, which border Afghanistan.

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