US suspends national security assistance to Pakistan

State Dept spokesperson says Pakistan could receive the funding if it takes decisive actions against terrorism

Web Desk
State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert on January 4. Photo: US State Dept 

WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday announced that it is suspending the transfer of military equipment and security-related funds to Pakistan.

"Today we can confirm that we are suspending security assistance only to Pakistan at this time," State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert announced at a press briefing.

The spokesperson added that Pakistan could receive the suspended funding if it takes decisive actions against Haqqani Network and Afghan Taliban. 

Nauert said she could not provide a dollar value for the suspended aid because the administration was still calculating the types of aid affected by the decision.

The suspension of security assistance to Islamabad comes after Washington accused Pakistan of playing a “double game” on fighting terrorism and warned Islamabad it would have to do more if it wanted to maintain US aid.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Tuesday that Washington would withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan.

Haley's statement followed an angry tweet from Trump that the US had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit” for giving Pakistan billions in aid.

Nauert said the suspension of security assistance was in addition to the earlier announced suspension of $255 million aid. 

The State Department also placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List for what it claims are "severe violations of religious freedom".

In a press statement on Thursday, the State Department said it has also re-designated 10 countries as "countries of particular concern" under the country's International Religious Freedom Act for having engaged in or tolerated egregious violations of religious freedom.

According to Reuters, the Coalition Support Funds, which fall under US Defense Department, are covered by the freeze, said Pentagon spokesman Commander Patrick Evans, saying Congress authorised up to $900 million in such money for Pakistan for fiscal year 2017, which ended September 30. None of that money has yet been disbursed.

The freeze also covers $255 million in foreign military financing (FMF) for fiscal year 2016, which falls under the US State Department and whose suspension has already been announced, as well as unspecified amounts of FMF that went unspent in earlier fiscal years

'No amount of coercion can dictate us'

No amount of compulsion can pressurise Pakistan on how to continue, Major General Asif Ghafoor — the Director-General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) — said while speaking Wednesday night (Pakistan time) on Geo News' programme Capital Talk about the recent strategic developments.

The military spokesperson was responding to the US withholding aid worth $255 million to Pakistan following Trump’s tweet, wherein the latter said the US had foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in financial assistance over the past 15 years.

"No amount of coercion can dictate us how to continue," he said. "We wish to move forward through cooperative engagement but will not compromise on self-respect and dignity."

"Pakistan had made alternate arrangements in advance," the spokesperson said, adding that the US' decision to stop aid would not affect the nation's financial requirements.