Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

USA suspends $300 million in military aid to Pakistan

Pakistani demonstrators shout anti-US slogans at a protest in Quetta Pakistani demonstrators shout anti-US slogans at a protest in Quetta
Lisa Bryan | 03 September, 2018, 14:45

The Pentagon says it has suspended $300 milllion in military aid to Pakistan for not doing enough to battle terrorists groups inside its borders.

Mr. Faulkner said since January, the US has consistently engaged with Pakistani military officials at the highest levels, based on both a shared commitment to defeat all terrorist groups that threaten regional stability and security, as well as on a shared vision of a peaceful future for Afghanistan. "We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups", he added.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that it is not some aid that the U.S. is planning to cancel but it is in fact a payment of the expenses that it has incurred on war against terrorism.

The announcement over aid comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford are preparing to meet this week with Pakistan's newly elected prime minister, Imran Khan.

The US in January this year suspended more than 1.15 billion dollar security assistance to Pakistan, accusing it of harbouring terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network and showing unwillingness to take decisive actions against them.

Pakistan has received more than $33 billion in US assistance since 2002, including more than $14 billion in Coalition Support Funds, a US Defence Department programme to reimburse allies that have incurred costs in supporting counter-insurgency operations.

Previous administrations have tried similar approaches to get Pakistan to comply with US aims for security in the region. The US aid cut-off has come on the heels of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif's warm visit to Pakistan in which the latter emphasised its support for Iran and the nuclear deal that the US unilaterally pulled out of.


Faulkner said the Pentagon aimed to spend the $300 million on "other urgent priorities" if approved by Congress.

"This is not something that we were not expecting", a senior Pakistani security official told VOA on condition of anonymity, citing continued deterioration in bilateral ties.

Though the funds have been withheld this year, Pakistan could again be eligible next year for CSF, with United States officials saying that Islamabad could win back that support if it changed its behaviour.

Pak-US relations have taken a backtrack after the Pakistan Foreign Office rejected a statement by the US State Department regarding the contents of a phone call between Pompeo and PM Imran last week.

Pakistan is due to decide whether to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a bid to aid its ailing economy.

Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, nearly two weeks after his visit to Pakistan, has revealed on Sunday that he recently received a message from Prime Minister Imran Khan. This time may be different, however, as new Khan has said he seeks "mutually beneficial" relations with the United States.

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