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Exclusive: The Pentagon cancels aid for Pakistan against militants



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US military said it had made a final decision to remove $ 300 million in aid for Pakistan, which was lifted due to Islamabad's alleged failure to take determined action against militants.

A State Department contractor hired a Pakistani national flag on 1

9 February, prior to a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on the margins of the White House White House Summit on the Abolition of Violent Extremism in the State Department on 19 February 2015 REUTERS / Joshua Roberts / Files

The so-called Coalition Assistance Funds were part of a broader suspension of assistance to Pakistan that President Donald Trump had announced earlier this year when he accused Pakistan of rewarding his former aid, "Nothing but lies and fraud. "

The Trump administration says that Islamabad is providing a safe haven for insurgents leading a 17-year war in neighboring Afghanistan, an indictment that Pakistan denies.

But US officials had promised that Pakistan could regain this support if it changed its behavior.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in particular, had the option of granting $ 300 million in CSF funding by the summer of this year – if he saw concrete Pakistani action against insurgents. Mattis did not decide, a US official told Reuters.

"Pentagon spokesman Lt. Kone Faulkner said Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner was" reprogrammed because of the lack of Pakistani decisive action in support of the South Asia strategy. "

Faulkner said the Pentagon would spend the $ 300 million on "other urgent priorities" if approved by Congress. He said another $ 500 million in CSF was withdrawn from Pakistan earlier this year to limit the amount to $ 800 million.

The revelation came before the expected visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the US Supreme Military General Gen. Joseph Dunford to Islamabad. Mattis told reporters Tuesday that fighting militants was a "primary part of the discussion".

Experts on the Afghanistan conflict, America's longest war, argue that militant safe havens in Pakistan have given Taliban-affiliated insurgents a place in Afghanistan for deadly strikes and are grouping themselves after ground offensives.

INCREASE OF PRINT

The Pentagon's decision showed that the US, which has tried to change Pakistani behavior, is still putting pressure on Pakistan's security apparatus.

It also underlined that Islamabad was not yet able to accomplish the change Washington was seeking.

"It is a calibrated, incremental increase in pressure on Pakistan," said Sameer Lalwani, co-director of the South Asia Program in the Think Tank at the Stimson Center in Washington.

Reuters reported in August that the Trump administration has been quietly starting to eliminate numerous Pakistani officers from coveted education and training programs, which have been a hallmark of bilateral military relations for more than a decade.

The Pentagon has made similar CSF-related decisions in the past, but this year's move could attract more attention from Islamabad and his new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, at a time when his economy is battling.

Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves fell sharply last year and will soon decide whether to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or from friendly nations such as China.

"They squeeze them together when they know they're vulnerable, and it's probably a signal of what to expect when Pakistan comes for a loan to the IMF," Lalwani said. The United States has the largest share of votes in the IMF.

Khan, who once suggested he could order the launch of US drones when they enter Pakistan's airspace, resisted the US presence in Afghanistan. In his victory speech, he said he wanted "mutually beneficial" relations with Washington.

A Pakistani official speaking on condition of anonymity said he was unaware of a formal announcement of the US decision on aid, but said that it would be expected by the end of September.

Pakistan has received more than US $ 33 billion in US aid since 2002, including more than US $ 14 billion from CSF, a US Department of Defense compensation program that costs money to support counterinsurgency operations to have.

Pakistan could be eligible for the CSF again next year.

The Pentagon can be seen in this aerial photo of Air Force One in Washington DC on March 29, 2018. REUTERS / Yuri Gripas / Files

coverage by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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