Days after threatening to pull financial aid from Pakistan via Twitter, President Donald Trump has suspended at least $900 million in aid money over concerns that the country isn't doing enough to crack down on terrorism. Reuters reports that the funding is being withheld until the administration is satisfied that Pakistan has taken action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network:
The U.S. State Department announced the decision, saying it reflected the Trump administration’s frustration that Pakistan has not done more against the two groups that Washington says use sanctuaries in Pakistan to launch attacks in neighboring Afghanistan that have killed U.S., Afghan and other forces.
The move comes days after President Trump used his first tweet of the year to blast Pakistan for being weak on terrorism.
The United States 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, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
Department officials declined to confirm the exact amount of funding that would be held back, but it is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $900 million, mostly in military aid. President Trump has expressed frustration with the ability of terrorists from the two groups to find refuge in Pakistan:
Pakistan has long rejected accusations that it fails to tackle the militants battling the Kabul government and U.S.-led foreign forces in Afghanistan, from sanctuaries on its side of the border. On Friday, Pakistan criticized what it called “shifting goalposts” and said the U.S. suspension of aid was counter-productive.
While military aid is being held, other aid money from Washington to Islamabad will continue to flow:
Briefing reporters, U.S. officials stressed the suspension did not affect civilian aid to Pakistan and that the money could go through if Islamabad took decisive action against the groups.
“Our hope is that they will see this as a further indication of this administration’s immense frustration with the trajectory of our relationship and that they need to be serious about taking the steps we have asked in order to put it on more solid footing,” a senior State Department official told reporters.
In a series of tweets, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert laid out the new position on Pakistan.
Until the #Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan #Taliban and the #Haqqani Network, that are destabilizing the region and targeting U.S. personnel, the United States will suspend security assistance to the Pakistani military.— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) January 5, 2018
.@POTUS was clear when he announced his South Asia policy in August that no partnership can survive the harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials. More than four months later, these groups still find sanctuary inside #Pakistan.— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) January 5, 2018
#Pakistan has suffered greatly from terrorism, and we have worked closely with its security services to combat groups that target Pakistani interests. Now, as we have supported them, we need Pakistan to deny safe haven to, or lawfully detain, those who threaten U.S. interests.— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) January 5, 2018
We are ready to work w/ #Pakistan to combat all terrorists w/o distinction. We hope to renew & deepen our bilateral security relationship when Pakistan demonstrates willingness to aggressively confront Afghan #Taliban, #Haqqani Network, and others who operate from its territory.— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) January 5, 2018