Trump Suggests Freezing $1.9B in Aid to Pakistan Just the Start

Wednesday, 10 Jan, 2018

Unlike Mr Mattis, the official acknowledged that Islamabad could cut off supply routes to Afghanistan but insisted that "unless we deal with the Pakistan sanctuary issue, it will undermine all of our other efforts in Afghanistan".

State Department officials said they are holding back the aid as an incentive for Pakistan to take "decisive action" to rid its lands of terrorist safe havens. Islamabad denied his claim and has long decried similar allegations.

"The real question will be how this loss of support will be translated within Pakistani domestic security policy, and whether the loss of Pakistan as an ally is endemic of a much larger problem with American stature and influence on the worldwide stage", Akins continued.

"Today we can confirm that we are suspending national security assistance only, to Pakistan at this time until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network".

McMaster, an Army lieutenant general who served in Afghanistan, has been a key driver of the Trump administration's efforts to strengthen its stance against Pakistan.

Pakistani students burn images of President Trump during a protest against aid cuts in Islamabad on January 5.

US officials said two main categories of aid are affected: foreign military financing (FMF), which funds purchases of USA military hardware, training and services, and coalition support funds (CSF), which reimburse Pakistan for counter-terrorism operations.

Pakistani officials say they have received $14 billion and that Washington still owes the country $9 billion. The suspension of funding includes Coalition Support Funds for Pakistan, a sum the Pentagon provides to help pay the costs of Pakistan's counter-terror operations.Congress authorized up to $900 million in these support funds for Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017, none of which has been disbursed.

Trump Suggests Freezing $1.9B in Aid to Pakistan Just the Start

Meanwhile, Department of Defence Spokesperson Lt Col Mike Andrews told that National Defense Authorisation Act 2017 provides up to $ 900 million for Pakistan in the CSF.

In response, Pakistan summoned the USA ambassador to Pakistan late Monday to lodge a protest, saying Pakistan has taken action against all militant groups without any discrimination and its sacrifices are being ignored.

The move drew a stern backlash in Pakistan and a staunch defence of Islamabad in Beijing - a dynamic that experts said highlights the further strengthening of the relationship as the United States seeks closer ties with India while "casting aspersions on Pakistan", the Global Times said.

But analysts, who spoke to various media outlets, said it's highly unlikely that the USA will freeze all its supplies to Pakistan.

In one of the harshest actions in years between the troubled allies, the Trump administration moved Thursday to block an estimated $2billion in military assistance at the end of a week that began with the president accusing the Pakistanis of years of "lies & deceit". So the USA should also look to provide more targeted funding to groups that have the potential to reshape Pakistani society - those focused on anti-corruption efforts, for example, or religious tolerance. "And Pakistan has sacrificed a significant amount, including tens of thousands of military and security officials, as well as civilians killed in the fight against terrorism over the last couple of years", a State Department official said. Some Pakistani officials reacted harshly but Foreign Ministry statement talked about the need for mutual respect and patience to address the common threat of terrorism, it added. "My bill will take the money that would have gone to Pakistan and put it in an infrastructure fund to build roads and bridges here at home". "Pakistan remains an important country in the region and in the world, and has historically been a vital partner for the USA..." "Their, in essence, support of the Haqqani network, or ... allowing them to have safe harbour in their country when they're the greatest threat to our men and women in uniform".

The Afghanistan-Pakistan region is home to the "highest regional concentration" of terrorist groups in the world, according to the USA military.

"What if the Pakistanis shut down the ALOCs (Air Lines of Communications). How do you keep supplying the ANSF?"

This new year has started with quite a bang as far as relations between Pakistan and the U.S. are concerned.