Trump administration freezes security aid to Pakistan

President Donald Trump's tweet saying Pakistan is full of 'lies and deceit' sparks protests as well 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Thursday 04 January 2018 21:44 GMT
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Supporters of Pakistani religious groups rally against US President Donald Trump in Lahore, Pakistan 2 January 2018.
Supporters of Pakistani religious groups rally against US President Donald Trump in Lahore, Pakistan 2 January 2018.

The US State Department announced it is suspending security assistance and aid to Pakistan until Islamabad takes action against the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network terror groups after President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of "deceit and lies" when working with the US.

The total amount withheld from the country that has been an important logistical stop for US troops fighting in Afghanistan - America's longest war - is approximately $255m (£188m).

"Today we can confirm that we are suspending ... 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. We consider them to be destabilizing the region and also targeting U.S. personnel," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said during a briefing.

Ms Nauert said some aid could be let through should Islamabad demonstrate taking "decisive action" against these groups, but she did not elaborate as to what kind of action that should be or if any of the currently-withheld security assistance money could be used for it.

For now, military equipment will not be transferred nor any security-related funds, but it is unclear what "exceptions" will be made, which Ms Nauert mentioned.

A State Department representative has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Mr Trump had tweeted for the first time in 2018 that the US “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."

Mr Trump also tweeted that Pakistan “give[s] safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry could not be reached for comment, but Minister Khawaja Asif had said about Mr Trump on the local GeoTV station: “He has tweeted against us and Iran for his domestic consumption.”

“He is again and again displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in dead-end street in Afghanistan,” Mr Asif said.

Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir-Khan responded via Twitter as well, writing that Pakistan is an “anti-terror ally” of the US and as such has provided the American military with “land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda” since 2001 when the war started as a response to the September 11th attacks.

The minister did not mention that terrorist Osama bin Laden was living in the garrison town of Abbotabad for several years before he was killed in a special forces raid during the previous administration of Barack Obama in 2011.

He tweeted that the US has “given us nothing but invective & mistrust.”

Mr Dastgir-Khan also accused the US of ignoring “cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis.”

US Defence Secretary James Mattis had already delayed a military-specific aid package of $50m (£37m) in July over concerns Pakistan was not doing enough to tamp down on the Haqqani Network or Taliban terror groups - both priorities for the US across the border in Afghanistan.

Though Pakistan is considered a major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) ally of the US, it still needs the annual certification which Mr Mattis stalled in order to get the yearly aid package.

Agencies have contributed to this report.

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