United States president can not afford to walk away from Pakistan

United States president can not afford to walk away from Pakistan

WASHINGTON-The Trump administration said it would freeze all security assistance to Pakistan until the country takes a tougher stance against terror networks on its territory, a move that reflects new tensions and could lead to problems in supplying USA troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

The State Department's declaration Thursday signaled growing frustration over Pakistan's level of cooperation in fighting terrorist networks. "We simply can not ignore the terror sanctuaries (in Pakistan) if we're going to make progress in Afghanistan", he said, adding that "the president has been very clear about his commitment to stabilising Afghanistan".

Briefing the Parliamentary Committee on National Security about tension between Pakistan and the U.S. following Trump's remarks, Asif said the U.S. was making Islamabad a scapegoat for its failure in Afghanistan.

The US Defense Department has been instructed to stop making payments from Coalition Support Funds set aside to refund Pakistani spending on counter-terrorist operations.

Lasting change, however, will come only when the Pakistani people themselves demand an end to support for militants.

On Monday, Mr. Trump said the USA had "foolishly" given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had gotten nothing in return but "lies & deceit".

Besides calling on Pakistan to combat the Afghan Taliban and its al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network allies, which the Pentagon has deemed the top threat against USA troops in Afghanistan, the anonymous DOS official also urged Islamabad to take action against anti-India terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LET) and Jaish-e Mohammed (JEM).

Pakistan is a crucial gateway for U.S. military supplies destined for United States and other troops fighting a 16-year-old war in neighboring, landlocked Afghanistan. US officials have long complained that Pakistan tolerates or even encourages extremists, charges denied by Islamabad.

"Today we can confirm that we are suspending national security assistance only, to Pakistan at this time until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network", State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.

Civilian development and economic assistance to Pakistan is not affected.

On Thursday, the Trump administration also accused Pakistan of severe violations of religious freedom in a further sign of deteriorating relations. It announced that it was placing Pakistan on a special watch list, pursuant to 2016 legislation.

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The step does not carry any serious consequences, but it comes in the wake of stiff criticism from President Donald Trump this week.

In an interaction with reporters, two senior state department officials insisted that such a move is not a punishment, but to provide an "incentive" to Pakistan to take more action against terrorist groups.

Moreover, the majority of attacks and fatalities in Afghanistan take place in areas along the worldwide boundary that separates the nation from Pakistan. The United States acknowledges and appreciates Pakistan's successful efforts to combat militants that threaten the Pakistani state, such as the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaida, and ISIS.

Pakistan was engaged with the USA administration on security cooperation and awaited further detail, it said.

Responding to Washington's allegations, Maj Gen Ghafoor, the military's media wing chief, said Pakistan had taken action against the Haqqani network.

'I'm not concerned, ' the defense secretary tells reporters after the White House announced an intention to suspend military aid to Islamabad.

"I prefer not to address that right now because it's obviously still being formulated as policy".

Mattis said Friday he has not seen any indication from Islamabad that it would shut military supply routes.

According to another senior administration official, as part of the latest decision, the U.S. will now not deliver military equipment or transfer security related funds to Pakistan unless required by law. Pakistan has increasingly turned for economic support to northern neighbor China, which is investing tens of billions in transportation links and power generation as it extends its strategic footprint across Asia. The official further said, "Hope that Pakistan would take actions that the USA was seeking as it will allow the relationship to return to a more positive trajectory". "At one time Pakistan had the option to become the ally of Russian Federation but it opted to join hands with the USA instead", he said.

But at this time, the United States prefers to cooperate with Pakistan and is hopeful about it, the official said.

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