Pakistan official accuses USA of betrayal after suspension of military aid

Trump Administration Trying Something New Against'Terror Safe Haven Pakistan Official

Trump Administration Trying Something New Against'Terror Safe Haven Pakistan Official

Asked during a press interaction at the Pentagon whether he was in favour of cutting off the Pakistan aid, Defence Secretary James Mattis said: "I prefer not to address that right now because it's obviously still being formulated as policy".

Pakistani officials denounced the Trump administration's decision to suspend military aid Friday, decrying what they called "arbitrary deadlines" and "unilateral pronouncements", while members of the opposition called for retaliation.

China could once again be the beneficiary of a Trump decision whose signature tune is estrangement with and from long-time partners.

In his first tweet of 2018, Trump charged Pakistan with deceit and treachery and cut off all further aid to Islamabad for harbouring terrorists USA troops were hunting in Afghanistan. It also placed the country on a watch list of nations failing to protect religious freedom.

The Trump administration believes that it is time to try something new other than maintaining strategic patience and offering inducements to Pakistan to stop it from continuing as a safe haven for terrorists from where they can attack the USA and its allies, a senior official said today.

Both the USA action and Trump's remarks have upset many in Pakistan.

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Mr Mattis said "no" again when asked if he was anxious that China would move in to fill the gap created by the absence of United States military aid to Pakistan.

South Asia expert Christine Fair of Georgetown University voiced concern that Pakistan might retaliate for the suspension by closing the highways from the port city of Karachi on which equipment is trucked to land-locked Afghanistan and the airspace through which supplies are flown to USA -led worldwide forces there.

The policy is not about looking at Pakistan through the lens of Afghanistan, but it is about looking at the entire region and the future of the United States, he said.

Bilateral relations have been sour since Washington released its so-called new South Asia strategy and suspended its military assistance of 255 billion US dollars to the Asian country.

State Department officials said the $255 million in FMF for 2016 that has been kept in a separate account since September would remain there for now.

While Pakistanis reject the U.S. charge that they have allowed the Haqqani Network to maintain safe havens, they appear more eager to understand the USA plan to defeat the Taliban. "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.

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The United States will not deliver military equipment or transfer security-related funds to Pakistan unless required by law. "They have to take decisive steps", she added. "Pakistan shall continue its honest efforts in [the] best interest of Pakistan and peace", the army spokesman said. In 2011, Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, told a Senate committee that the Haqqani network was a "veritable arm" of the Pakistani security service.

Pakistan has recently begun constructing dozens of security posts along the border with Afghanistan as well as a fence to curtail cross-border movement. "Effects of action against the Haqqani network will be visible in due time", he said.

Another statement on Friday rejected the US decision to add Pakistan to a special watch list for violations of religious freedom, pursuant to 2016 legislation. The Foreign Ministry said the designation is not based on "objective criteria".

"It's north of $255 million", said one U.S. official.

In August, while unveiling his new South Asia strategy, Trump had accused Pakistan of giving "safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror", and said the time had come "for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace". The U.S. originally increased funding to Pakistan in 2002 as part of its war on terror, and the Obama administration made Pakistan a priority as it planned to capture the terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

A senior administration official said the total amount of military aid being suspended is about $2 billion, including $900 million in coalition support funds designated to reimburse Pakistan for fighting militants.

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