US Cuts Aid Citing Pakistan Fails to Curb Terrorist Groups

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Washington, DC – With the US-India 2+2 Dialogue scheduled for this week (Sept 6) in Delhi, Washington is tightening its purse strings for Pakistan, the neighboring arch-rival of India.

At the onset of the weekend, the Pentagon announced curtailing millions of dollars in aid to Islamabad for its failure to rope in terrorist organizations.

The announced reprogramming by the Pentagon of USD 300 million of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) for Pakistan due to its failure to tackle militant groups still needs to be approved by the US Congress.

A broader suspension of aid to Pakistan started in January. “Unfortunately, recent reporting has distorted the details of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) by stating several things out of context. The suspension of security assistance to Pakistan was announced in January 2018,” Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Kon Faulkner clarified on Sunday.

“The CSF is included in the suspension and it remains in place. This is not a new decision or a new announcement, but an acknowledgement of a July request to reprogramme funds before they expire,” he said.

Highlighting the US efforts to consistently engage with Pakistani military officials at the highest levels, Faulkner noted that such talks since January are based on both a shared commitment to defeat all terrorist groups that threaten regional stability and security, as well as on a shared vision of a peaceful future for Afghanistan.

“We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network and LeT, and we continue to call on Pakistan to arrest, expel or bring the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table,” he said.

Faulkner noted that the 2018 Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Act, published on March 23, details $500 million was rescinded by the Congress. Due to Pakistan’s lack of decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy, the remaining USD 300 million was reprogrammed by the DoD in July 2018 time frame for other urgent priorities before the funds expire on September 30, he said.

The department is awaiting congressional determination on whether this reprogramming request will be approved or denied. “The DoD will have a congressional response before September 30, 2018, to allow the DoD to implement the reprogramming actions, the spokesman said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit Islamabad and these issues related to counter terrorism will definitely figure in his talks with the top Pakistani leaders.

On the other hand, Islamabad refused to acknowledge the reports about US aid suspension. Pakistani Government labels it owed money from the US for expenses incurred on fighting terrorism. “It is not a cut in any [US] aid, it is not assistance. This is our own money which we have used for improving regional security situation and they had to reimburse it to us,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was recently cited in local media reports as telling journalists in Islamabad.

Qureshi confirmed his American counterpart will visit Pakistan on Wednesday. The Pakistani leader, however, downplayed suggestions that the US funding row will sour the upcoming visit of Secretary Pompeo together with US General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The visit and it’s outcome will be closely watched as this will be Washington’s first high-level dialogue with Islamabad since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office following recent elections.

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