Pentagon moves to scrap US$300 million in aid to Pakistan

Pentagon canceling $300M in aid to Pakistan, citing record on militants: report | TheHill

The United States military has chose to cancel over $300 million (Rs 2,130 crore) in aid to Pakistan as Islamabad has failed to take action against militant groups, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

The Defence Department has sought to cut aid by US$300 million "due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy", Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said in an email to AFP.

The US in January this year suspended more than Dollars 1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan, accusing it of harbouring terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network within its borders and showing unwillingness to take "decisive actions" against them, a move that affected bilateral ties.

The disclosure came ahead of an expected visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the top U.S. military officer, General Joseph Dunford, to Islamabad.

The cut in aid is serious, but the USA still sends more than a billion dollars to Pakistan in other military aid and economic assistance.

The Pentagon says it is stopping $300 million in aid to Pakistan for counterterrorism efforts, after it deemed that the country isn't meeting its demands for decisive action against terrorist groups operating within its borders.

Last month, the Congress had slashed the security-oriented financial aid to Pakistan that came after the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2019 increased the military expenditure and opted to not bring any changes in policy. Pakistan has consistently denied it grants safe haven to the militant groups.

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"It is a calibrated, incremental ratcheting up of pressure on Pakistan", said Stimson Center South Asia Program Co-Director Sameer Lalwani. Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with the conflict, prompting USA peace talks with the Taliban. "This is our own money which we have used for improving regional security situation and they had to reimburse it to us", Qureshi said.

Global relations expert Huma Baqai said the Pakistan-US ties had deteriorated like 'never before.' "We still have a chance as Pompeo and Dunford are coming for talks".

"They are squeezing them when they know that they're vulnerable and it is probably a signal about what to expect should Pakistan come to the International Monetary Fund for a loan", Lalwani said.

However, on Thursday, Islamabad stepped back from the row with the US State Department with Foreign Office spokesperson saying: "We would want the episode to end... politically, we need to move on". "This is the money they (US) are supposed to reimburse, but now either they are not willing or unable to pay back", Mr Qureshi said during a hurriedly called press conference on Sunday after the USA announced the decision.

Prime Minister Khan told reporters on Friday his government will hold talks with Pompeo's delegation to seek a "mutually beneficial" relationship with the United States that will be based on "mutual respect". The United States has taken a crucial decision to stop its financial aid to Pakistan.

Analysts say that the Trump administration's increasing closeness with Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi is leaving space for other countries such as China, Russia, Iran and Turkey to gain influence in Pakistan.

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