US suspends Pakistan security assistance

The US government is suspendinh all security aid to Pakistan, saying it has failed to deal with terror groups 

The US Government is suspending all security aid to Pakistan, saying it has failed to deal with terrorist networks operating on its soil.

The State department said the freeze would remain in place until Islamabad took action against the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban.

it said the declaration is a sign of the growing frustration in Washington over Pakistan’s perceived lack of co-operation in fighting terror networks.

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of lying and deceiving the US while receiving billions in aid.

It is not clear how much money or material is being withheld as a result of this move.

Trump said the US had "foolishly" given Pakistan more than $33bn (in aid over the last 15 years, only to receive "lies and deceit" in return.

He also repeated long-standing allegations that the country provides "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan".

The Pakistan government has forcefully pushed back against the US.

Pakistan said the message was "completely incomprehensible" and at odds with the recent "trust-building" visits by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the restrictions covered security assistance above and beyond the $255m for Pakistani purchases of US military equipment that the Trump administration held up back in August.

Nauert made clear that this money was still blocked.

The stance has been praised by India and Afghanistan, but China, which is investing tens of billions in Pakistan, has defended Islamabad.

On Thursday, the state department also placed Pakistan on a special watch list for "severe violations of religious freedom".

The target of this new action is payments of so-called Coalition Support Funds that the US pays to Pakistan to reimburse it for its counter-terrorism operations.

This money is usually paid later in the year and already needed to be certified before being sent to Pakistan, meaning the effect of Thursday's announcement was unclear

The US and others have long complained that Pakistan offers a safe haven to the Afghan Taliban and their allies, the Haqqani network, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. That's something Islamabad denies but President Trump has escalated the criticism since he took office.

Pakistan reluctantly joined Washington's War on Terror after the 9/11 attacks and has received billions of dollars in assistance as a result. That funding has been falling for some time because of US frustrations, but the uneasy relationship continued, as America needs the cooperation Pakistan does provide.

The Pakistanis say they've suffered great losses from the longstanding war against Islamist networks and are furious that Mr Trump fails to acknowledge the role they've played.

 

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