President Donald Trump has asked Pakistan repeatedly to take more action against terrorists and militants, and the government's decision to hold back $255 million in funding is something that had been known could happen for several months, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Thursday.
The decision to cut down on almost all the security assistance came after President Donald Trump on Twitter accused Pakistan of providing "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan" and said that the country had "given us nothing but lies & deceit". Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) has taken a head-on confrontational approach, where Director General Major Asif Ghafoor stated that Pakistan would respond to any U.S. action in line with the aspirations of the people, but still left the window for cooperation open, saying that they would still push for a good relationship, and action against the Haqqani network would be visible soon.
"You may recall they were of assistance to the USA government when it came to releasing the Coleman family, an American citizen from the United States late a year ago". The move, widely expected after Trump's New Year's Day Twitter broadside against Islamabad, may affect as much as $1.3 billion in US aid to Pakistan under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and Coalition Support Reimbursement (CSR) programs.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi called Trump's criticism "incomprehensible".
The United States has long blamed the militant safehavens in Pakistan for prolonging the war in Afghanistan, giving insurgents, including from the Haqqani network, a place to plot attacks and rebuild its forces.
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The U.S. State Department revealed the decision to suspend help comes from the Trump administration's frustration over Pakistan for not taking enough efforts against two groups. She charged Islamabad with "playing a double game".
Nuzhat Sadiq, the chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee in Pakistan's Senate, said Pakistan can manage without the U.S.as it did in the 1990s, but would prefer to move the troubled relationship forward.
Nauert said details were still being worked out on the additional funds, and referred questions to the Defence Department.
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"There are countries in the region that want to increase the differences between Pakistan and the U.S.", he said, in an apparent reference to India.
"If something were to happen to the ground lines of communication or air lines of communication through Pakistan, certainly that would be very hard for the USA and we would have to look for alternatives", the official said.
To a question, he said China, Turkey and Russian Federation besides other countries had acknowledged Pakistan's efforts in war against terrorism.
They say the insurgents have safe havens in Pakistan's border areas and links to its shadowy military establishment, which aims to use them in Afghanistan as a regional bulwark against arch-nemesis India.
The Trump administration announced the suspension of all security aid to Pakistan on January 4 2017.
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Maleeha Lodhi - Pakistan's permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) - set the record straight after her American counterpart Nikki Haley made incendiary remarks Tuesday night against Pakistan.