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U.S. Suspends Nearly $1 Billion In Aid To Pakistan Pending Action Against Militants

Pakistani demonstrators shout anti-U .S. slogans at a protest in Quetta on January 4.
Pakistani demonstrators shout anti-U .S. slogans at a protest in Quetta on January 4.

The U.S. government says it is suspending nearly $1 billion in security assistance to Pakistan's military until Islamabad takes "decisive action" against Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network militants operating within Pakistan's borders.

"The Taliban and Haqqani network continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilize Afghanistan and attack U.S. and allied personnel,"U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on January 4.

"Until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani group...the United States will suspend that type of security assistance to Pakistan," she said.

The department said details of the aid suspension are still being worked out, but at least $900 million in aid would be involved, including up to $900 million in funds for reimbursing Pakistan for counterterrorism operations and $255 million in foreign military financing for purchases of military hardware.

The $900 million in counterterrorism aid is controlled by the U.S. Defense Department, and Pentagon spokesman Commander Patrick Evans said on January 4 that all of its is covered by the freeze and none of it has been previously disbursed.

The $255 million in foreign military financing is controlled by the State Department, and officials said it has been suspended since August to pressure Islamabad to take tougher action against militants.

Nauert said that the new measures announced on January 4 would be in addition to the $255 million previously suspended.

U.S. officials who briefed reporters stressed the suspension does not affect civilian aid to Pakistan.

"We're hoping that Pakistan will see this as an incentive, not a punishment," a senior State Department official said.

The White House on January 2 said it was calling on Pakistan to do more to fight terrorism and that it would announce "specific actions" within days to pressure Islamabad.

In a Twitter posting on January 1, President Donald Trump threatened to cut off billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of being a safe haven for extremists operating in Afghanistan.

Trump said the United States has "foolishly" given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the past 15 years, "and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools."

Earlier on January 4, Pakistani Major General Asif Ghafoor told Geo Television that Islamabad seeks to continue its cooperation with the United States but that it will not "compromise on national interests and prestige."

He said Pakistan will respond to any actions taken by the U.S. government against Pakistan, although he was not specific.

Reuters news agency quoted Miftah Ismail, Pakistan's de facto finance minister, as saying that the "aid cuts will not hurt us."

"That's not the leverage they have, because it is something they have reduced drastically over the years," he added.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and The Washington Post

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