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U.S. suspending more than $255m in security aid to Pakistan

05 January 2018

During a press briefing on Thursday, State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed that the U.S. is suspending security assistance to Pakistan until takes "decisive action" against groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

The cutoff is not permanent, Nauert said, and only affects military assistance.

Civilian development and economic assistance to Pakistan is not affected. Nauert said that despite sustained high-level engagement with Pakistan's government, "the Taliban and Haqqani network continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilize Afghanistan and attack USA and allied personnel".

Nauert said that if Pakistan took decisive action against terrorists, it "has the ability to get this money back in the future". They said they could make exceptions to fund critical US national security priorities.

"Pakistan could be within their rights if they tell us you don't have flyover rights anymore", she added.

According to local media, more than 3,450 people have been killed in 417 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. They give safe havens to terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. Earlier, army spokesman Maj.

Pakistan was engaged with the USA administration on security cooperation and awaited further detail, it said.

Kono, for his part, expressed appreciation for the sacrifices made by the people of Pakistan in this regard and stressed the need for a coordinated global effort in the fight against extremism and terrorism, the statement added.

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

Mr. Trump's January 1 Twitter attack against Pakistan where he accused it of providing safe havens to terrorists appears to be helping boost already close ties between Pakistan and China, a report in the state-run Global Times said. "But that will have to change, and that will change immediately". Pakistan has refused to cut links with the Taliban and other terror groups.

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.

The suspended amount also include United States dollars 255 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress. That $255 million is included in the suspended aid announced Thursday by Nauert. In the 1990s, Washington imposed aid-cutting sanctions related to Pakistan's nuclear program and a military coup that deposed an elected prime minister.

On Friday, Pakistan criticized what it called "shifting goalposts" and said the US suspension of aid was counter-productive.

Since 2002, USA aid to Pakistan has totaled almost $34 billion but declined in recent years, according to the Congressional Research Service. The New York Times has quoted Trump administration officials as saying "around $1.3 billion could be frozen".

Some regional analysts question whether the Trump administration has a plan for how to move forward, or if the decision to cut funding was a reaction to recent comments from Pakistan's foreign minister, who accused Trump on Wednesday of lying about how much aid the USA gives Pakistan. It accused the US of scapegoating Pakistan for its own failure to bring peace to Afghanistan.

"A balanced response is needed that would preserve the country's dignity while engaging with the U.S.", Sadiq said.

Pakistan is largely shrugging off the proposed USA aid cuts but frets that Washington could take more drastic measures to deter what it sees as Pakistan's support for the Taliban.

"We can review our cooperation if it is not appreciated".

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.

Pakistan said the message was "completely incomprehensible" and at odds with the recent "trust-building" visits by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis.

U.S. suspending more than $255m in security aid to Pakistan