Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Trump Backs Proposal to Spend Pakistan Aid Money on US Infrastructure Projects

Trump Backs Proposal to Spend Pakistan Aid Money on US Infrastructure Projects

On Monday, he tweeted that the United States had "foolishly" given Pakistan more than US$33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had gotten nothing in return but "lies and deceit".

The US on Thursday announced the suspension of at least $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan until it "takes decisive action" against militant groups "destabilising the region". "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help", President Trump continued.

The United States is examining ways to mitigate any Pakistani retaliation as it piles pressure on Islamabad to crack down on militants, a senior USA official said on Friday, cautioning that US action could extend beyond a new freeze in aid.

If U.S. -Pakistan relations fall off a cliff this year, one of the major points of leverage that Islamabad may choose to apply is its acquiescence to the United States resupplying its Afghanistan-based troop presence through its territory-mainly via port access from the Arabian Sea.

USA officials said two main categories of aid are affected: foreign military financing (FMF), which funds purchases of USA military hardware, training and services, and coalition support funds (CSF), which reimburse Pakistan for counter-terrorism operations.

The State Department official acknowledged that Pakistan had been the target of terrorist attacks, but added that the USA needs Islamabad "to deny safe haven to, or lawfully detain, those who threaten U.S. interests". "America can not fight in Afghanistan without the assistance of Pakistan", he said.

China was quick to jump to Pakistan's defence when US President tweeted that his administration was stopping all aid to Islamabad for not using the money to flush out terrorists.

While relations had strengthened again in recent years, as the Pakistani government launched military operations against jihadists in the country, things deteriorated over the summer amid complaints from us officials that the Pakistanis weren't doing enough to go after a group known as the Haqqani network, which is accused of targeting American forces in Afghanistan.

When all of this is taken into consideration, it seems rational the Trump administration may take a hard line with Pakistan.

A senior Pakistan Army official said on Wednesday that no amount of coercion could dictate Pakistan on how to conduct its policies and affairs. "That was announced back in August", she said in response to a question.

"We will not be delivering military equipment or transfer security related funds to Pakistan unless it is required by law".

But Washington has only just begun to work through its new plan to suspend up to roughly $2 billion in US security assistance, announced on Thursday.

The Pakistan government has forcefully pushed back against the United States, a key ally.

"This is something that should not come as a surprise to Pakistan", state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.

Pakistan's embassy in Washington and mission at the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

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