The US suspended about $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups and dismantle their safe havens, a White House official said. Such a drastic step has been taken at the direction of US President Donald Trump who is frustrated at Pakistan’s inaction on terror groups, a senior administration official told reporters on the condition of anonymity. Despite four months of high-level engagement with Pakistan, the information that Trump was receiving from the ground was not satisfactory, as a result he decided to suspend security assistance to Pakistan, the official added. He, however, said that suspension can be lifted if Pakistan takes decisive actions against militant groups and terrorists.
The White House official disagreed with Pakistani allegations that the US is speaking the language of India and that US has dumped Pakistan. “We do not believe this is the language of India. This is the language of the president and the US administration. So we just disagree with that,” the official said. The official was responding to a question about a statement made by the Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawja Asif in this regard. In an interview, Asif alleged that the US is “trumpeting India’s lies and deceit” and is speaking the “language of Indians”. According to the official, the suspension does not include civilian assistance. It is mostly security assistance, with the provision of exceptions in case of national interest. “Prior year funding for equipment that have not yet been delivered would be suspended. It includes the USD 255 million in FMF (foreign military funding) that was notified to Congress in August of last year. It totals about billions worth of military assistance that has been planned,” the official said, giving the breakdown of suspension of about USD 2 billion security assistance to Pakistan.
This also includes USD 900 million in the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), the official said, adding that US considers CSF as security aid, whole Pakistan considers this as a reimbursement. “That is what approximately USD2 billion worth of equipment and the Coalition support funding that that is in play,” the official said, reiterating that this has been suspended. “I just want to be clear that it’s been suspended. Nothing’s been reprogrammed. We’re hopeful that we can lift the suspension and the aid would be able to go forward. But at this time that’s what is suspended,” the official said. According to the White House, there are going to be “exceptions made”, and the administration is still working on the details of the implementation of the aid suspension policy. “There will be exceptions made. I think you can assume that you know things that are in the US national security, things that might be related to nuclear issues, end use monitoring of equipment. I don’t want to get into specific because the implementation is still being worked out but there certainly will be exceptions made when the items are deemed to be in the US national security interests,” the official said.
Not responding to questions of other steps like removing Pakistan from its non-NATO ally status, the official said US has a number of tools in its toolkit. “We can take unilateral steps. We prefer to cooperate with Pakistan. We are hopeful that we will be able to cooperate in the future. But right now, we’re frustrated and we want to indicate to Pakistan our seriousness about the issue of dealing with safe havens,” the official said. Terrorist safe havens in Pakistan has been a problem for the US for the past 15 years and it has been one of the major reasons that the American efforts in Afghanistan have been frustrated. Noting that the president has a comprehensive strategy on Afghanistan that the administration believes Pakistan can benefit from if they cooperate. “The president has shown that he is willing to speak with clarity when he talks about Pakistan and our relationship,” the official said.
“This can help to have a more effective policy toward Pakistan and we can get some better results this time around,” the official said in response to a question. Reacting to the Trump administration’s move, Pakistan had earlier said, “We are engaged with the US Administration on the issue of security cooperation and await further details”. “Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing common threats,” the Foreign Office said in a statement in Islamabad earlier.