United States military decides to cancel $300 million aid to Pakistan

United States military decides to cancel $300 million aid to Pakistan

United States military decides to cancel $300 million aid to Pakistan

Relations between the US and Pakistan have been increasingly frayed since January, when US President Donald Trump suspended more than $1.1bn in security assistance to the country over allegations that it was not acting against armed groups such as the Afghan Taliban.

The Defense Department announced it will cancel $300 million in aid to Pakistan that had previously been suspended over Islamabad's perceived unwillingness to take firm action against militants in the country.

The announcement comes ahead of an expected trip to Islamabad by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the USA military's top officer, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Pakistan has received more than $33 billion in USA assistance in the past 16 years, including more than $14 billion in Coalition Support Funds. State Department said the U.S. was suspending "security assistance" to Pakistan as the trust level between the two countries drastically declined.

"We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups", Faulkner said on Saturday, adding that the latest aid cut request was pending congressional approval.

The United States' South Asia strategy encompasses Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, the Central Asian nations and parts of Southeast Asia, and is aimed at strengthening American security.

The US had announced a freeze on aid to Pakistan at the beginning of the year as it pushed the country to crack down on terrorist activities originating from its soil.

Newly sworn in Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that bringing the country's economy back on track will be a priority given its fast-depleting foreign exchange reserves.

"It is a calibrated, incremental ratcheting up of pressure on Pakistan", said Stimson Center South Asia Program Co-Director Sameer Lalwani.

The Taliban reacted to the new strategy by threatening to make Afghanistan a "graveyard" for US soldiers. "We will listen to him and present our point of view to him as well", said the foreign minister. On announcing the initial suspension, Trump accused Islambad of "nothing but lies & deceit" in a widely cited tweet.

The United States routinely calls on Pakistan to do more in the fight against terrorism even though Islamabad has suffered huge losses, both in men and material, in its effort to purge the region of the menace of terrorism.

"I think our approach of cutting assistance and pressuring Pakistan on their relationship with the Taliban - persuading them to come to the table, dealing with terrorist networks - will be sustained", he said.

Mr. Pompeo already faced a frosty reception in Islamabad, particularly after he said in July the International Monetary Fund shouldn't extend a financial bail-out to Pakistan, in part, because it would help pay off Chinese loans to Pakistan.

In March, a senior US official said Islamabad had "done the bare minimum to appear responsive to our requests". The administration says Pakistan is not taking strong enough steps to combat the Taliban and other groups.

To a question about options for Pakistan to get the stopped funds, Mr Qureshi said Pakistan will talk to the United States because the money was already spent by Pakistan.

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