$2B at risk in suspension of aid to Pakistan

The United States said yesterday it was suspending at least US$900 million (S$1.19 billion) in security assistance to Pakistan until it takes action against the Afghan Taleban and the Haqqani network militant groups.

The officer who wants to stay anonymous told such a drastic step has been taken against Pakistan since US President Donald Trump is unhappy with Pakistan failing to contain terror groups in the country.

"We're hoping that Pakistan will see this as an incentive, not a punishment", he added.

"We do not believe this is the language of India". This is the language of the president and the U.S. administration. "And so the decision was made to take this step as one step to indicate that we can not continue business as usual with the Pakistani government if they are not going to be a partner with us", said a state department official in the briefing for reporters. "Prior year funding for equipment that have not yet been delivered would be suspended".

US Defense Secretary James Mattis says the United States is still working with Pakistan to coordinate military supply routes needed for the fight in Afghanistan even after the suspension of American security assistance.

Those funds comprise about $1 billion in planned military assistance, including the $255 million in foreign military financing that was put on hold in August, and an additional $900 million in Coalition Support Funds meant to reimburse Pakistan for counterterrorism operations, said the official, who was not authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity.

"I just want to be clear that it's been suspended". Nothing's been reprogrammed. We're hopeful that we can lift the suspension and the aid would be able to go forward. US aid agencies alone gave nearly $5 million to Pakistan in 2017, according to data from USAID.

"There will be exceptions made".

Imran Khan, a celebrity cricketer turned leading opposition figure, took a tougher line, arguing that it was "time for Pakistan to delink from the U.S." and end cooperation with the American war on terror, which includes a loathed clandestine drone campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas - a frequent subject of Khan's nationalist diatribes. "I don't want to get into specific because the implementation is still being worked out but there certainly will be exceptions made when the items are deemed to be in the United States national security interests", the official said.

Pakistan has become an unreliable ally.

"We have been saying for years that neighboring Pakistan is providing safe haven to terrorist groups, and they were also funding the terrorist groups", Nasrat Rahim, deputy interior ministry spokesman, told reporters in Kabul.

The announcement ignited some small protests in Pakistan on Friday, including in Chaman, one of the two main crossings on the border with Afghanistan where several hundred people gathered to chant anti-US slogans.

FMF funds enable partner countries to buy "US defence articles, services, and training" and are provided either as a non-repayable grant or on a loan basis. He reiterated longstanding allegations that Pakistan gives "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan".

Pakistan has announced moves to expel Afghan refugees several times in the recent past, as a reaction either to pressure by the us or spikes in violence, but these decisions were never followed through.

"The president has shown that he is willing to speak with clarity when he talks about Pakistan and our relationship", the official said. The growing Pakistan-China axis has more than a mere Asian dimension.

And in what is a further deterioration of ties, the USA suspended security assistance to Pakistan over what it sees as failure by the government to adequately clamp down on terror groups within its borders, the State Department announced on January 4.

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