By Prarthana Mitra
Just weeks after Pakistan’s new Prime Minister announced his intent to strengthen US-Pak relations, the Pentagon moved to cancel security-related aid worth $300 million to Islamabad, alleging it hasn’t done enough to curb the rise of terrorist militancy in the country.
Aid or reimbursement?
The Pentagon announced the suspension of (part of the) aid first in January, and the rest this summer. The unplanned cancellation on Sunday was supposedly owing to Pakistan’s lack of decisive action, in support of US’ counter-terrorism strategies.
Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Kon Faulkner said, “Unfortunately, recent reporting has distorted the details of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) by stating several things out of context. The suspension of security assistance to Pakistan was announced in January 2018.”
“The CSF is included in the suspension and it remains in place,” he added, saying, “This is not a new decision or a new announcement, but an acknowledgement of a July request to reprogram funds before they expire” on September 30.
Pakistan, however, has a different version of events. “This is our own money which we have used for improving the regional security situation and they had to reimburse it to us,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad. CSF refers to reimbursement that Pakistan deserves because of the immense logistical and military support it has lent to the US in its war on terrorism, claimed Pakistani senator Mushahid Hussain.
Another bunch of bureaucrats is certain that this cut in aid is a means to “solidify Indo-UK relations front against Pakistan’s best friend, China.”
American stoppage of $ 300 m. Coalition Support Funds (CSF) undermines Pompeo visit to Islamabad & is a sop to India as he seeks to solidify Indo-US front against Pakistan’s best friend, China; earlier, $ 500 m CSF was stopped, all this is money owed to Pakistan by US, NOT aid!
— Mushahid Hussain Sayed (@Mushahid) September 2, 2018
Guilty of providing “safe haven” to terrorists
Urging Pakistan to “indiscriminately target” all home-grown terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the US government cited that the commitment to tackle terrorist groups in the South Asian country was not shared by its military forces despite working closely and consistently since January. The Pentagon has also criticised Pakistan’s recalcitrance in arresting, expelling or bringing the Taliban group to the negotiating table.
Peace and stability in the region and the vision for better relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to elude as Pakistan continues to offer a safe haven to those who endanger it. An angry New Year Tweet by US President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of giving the US only “lies & deceit” in return for $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he had said.
Putting a further strain on US-Pak relations, this withdrawal of aid comes just days ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Islamabad visit, where he is expected to address counter-terrorism issues with top Pakistani officials. Pompeo intends to visit India next, for the ‘2+2’ strategic India-US dialogue.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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