In what could be another big blow to the deteriorating ties between the United States and Pakistan, the US military has made a final decision to freeze the financial aid worth 300 million USD to the Imran Khan government owing to Islamabad’s perceived failure to take decisive action against militants.
“Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy, the remaining USD 300 million (actually USD 323.6 million to include non-Pakistan funds) was reprogrammed by DoD in the June/July 2018 time frame for other urgent priorities before the funds expire on September 30, 2018," Pentagon Spokesperson Kon Faulkner told PTI.
There are also reports that US President Donald Trump's administration has accused Pakistan of providing a safe haven to the insurgents, who are responsible for "a 17-year-old war in neighbouring Afghanistan". Pakistan, however, has denied such allegation.
With this, the Department of Defence (DoD) has reprogrammed USD 800 million CSF destined for Pakistan.
This is because US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has refused to give the necessary certification to the Congress that Pakistan has taken strong steps against terrorist groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
"This is not a new decision or a new announcement. In 2018, the DoD Appropriations Act, published on March 23, 2018, you can find the verbiage detailing USD 500 million was rescinded by Congress upon the 2018 DoD. Appropriations Act's passage (page 161), which is all public?" Faulkner added.
"We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network and LET in the region?" he stated.
The decision came days ahead of the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Pakistan on September 5. According to reports, combating militants will be a "primary part of the discussion" between the two countries.
Earlier in August, Congress slashed the security-oriented financial aid to Pakistan that came after the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2019 increased the military expenditure and opted to not bring any changes in policy.
The US Department of Defence is currently awaiting a congressional determination on whether this reprogramming request will be approved or denied. Pentagon will have a congressional response before September 30, to allow it to implement the reprogramming actions.
(With inputs from agencies)