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After Trump tweet, Pakistan talks of 'response' to U.S. action

After Trump tweet, Pakistan talks of 'response' to U.S. action

The United States has suspended its security assistance to Pakistani forces, the State Department said Thursday, demanding "decisive action" against Taliban factions based in the country.

Nauert made clear the $255 million was still blocked, and the Pentagon said the new action targets payments of so-called Coalition Support Funds that the USA pays to Pakistan to reimburse it for its counterterrorism operations.

Askari warned the suspension of millions of dollars in security assistance might see the U.S. lose crucial influence over Pakistan which will instead look to other countries for support.

"Until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani group - we consider them to be a destabilizing the region and targeting U.S. personnel - the United States will suspend that type of security assistance to Pakistan".

Tense ties between the uneasy allies nosedived on January 1 when U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out on Twitter against Islamabad's "lies and deceit" despite $33 billion in aid and the White House warned of "specific actions" to pressure Pakistan.

The U.S. State Department announced the decision, saying it reflected the Trump administration's frustration that Pakistan has not done more against the two groups, which have long used sanctuaries in Pakistan to launch attacks in neighboring Afghanistan that have killed U.S., Afghan and other forces.

A senior Pakistan Army official said on Wednesday that no amount of coercion could dictate Pakistan on how to conduct its policies and affairs.

This is not the first time the USA has cut assistance to Pakistan. The impact isn't clear because few details have been released on how the Pakistani military has been using the funds.

Some analysts have said there is no real way to pressure Pakistan, which believes keeping Kabul out of nemesis India's orbit is more important than clamping down on cross-border militancy.

Islamabad has repeatedly denied the accusations, insisting it has eradicated safe havens and accusing the U.S. of ignoring the thousands who have been killed on Pakistani soil and the billions spent fighting extremists.




In the post-9/11 period, Pakistan emerged as one of the biggest recipients of U.S. aid because of its role as a regional ally in the American-led military intervention in Afghanistan.

United States security aid to Pakistan fell 62%-from $849 million in financial year 2012 to $322 million in financial year 2016. The country received more than $1 billion in USA assistance in 2016.

On Wednesday night, Ghafoor told local Geo TV that Pakistan wants to continue cooperation with the USA but will not "compromise on national interests and prestige".

After Trump tweet, Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations of Pakistan, Major General Asif Ghafoor, said on Wednesday that if the United States takes any action against Pakistan's national security, a response will be given in line with the public's expectations.

The latest USA defense budget signed by Trump in December allocates $700 million in conditional aid to reimburse Pakistan for supporting US military operations in Afghanistan, but the aid is facing more scrutiny.

"It's north of $255 million", said one USA official.

But Pakistan's foreign ministry issued a cautious statement in which it said it was "engaged" with USA officials and awaiting further details. It accused the US of scapegoating Pakistan for its own failure to bring peace to Afghanistan.

"We have got to see movement on this reduction of sanctuary and support for those insurgents and terrorists operating from Pakistan who are attacking our forces and our coalition diplomats and forces, as well as the Afghans, inside this country", Nicholson told reporters in November.

Also Thursday, the State Department accused Pakistan of severe violations of religious freedom.


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