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


Mon, Sep 03, 2018 - Page 1

The US military plans to cancel US$300 million in aid to Pakistan due to Islamabad’s lack of “decisive actions” in support of US strategy in the region, the US Department of Defense said on Saturday.

The US has been pushing Pakistan to crack down on militant safe havens in the country and announced a freeze on aid at the beginning of the year that an official said could be worth almost US$2 billion.

The 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,” US Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said in an e-mail to reporters.

“We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups,” Faulkner said, adding that the latest aid cut request was pending congressional approval.

Pakistan has fought fierce campaigns against homegrown militant groups, and says it has lost thousands of lives and spent billions of US dollars in its long war on extremism.

However, US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups, which attack Afghanistan from safe havens along the border between the two countries.

The White House believes that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and other military bodies have long helped fund and arm the Taliban for ideological reasons, but also to counter rising Indian influence in Afghanistan.

It also believes that a Pakistani crackdown could be pivotal in deciding the outcome of the long-running war in Afghanistan.

US frustration has boiled over before: US President Donald Trump’s predecessor, former US president Barack Obama, authorized drone strikes on Pakistani safe havens and sent US commandos to kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad hideout.

However, Trump’s aggressive language has especially angered Pakistani officials.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump tweeted at the beginning of the year.