WASHINGTON – In a fresh and harsh move, the Trump administration has held back previously promised military aid of $255 million to Pakistan by attaching it with elimination of alleged safe havens of terrorists in the country.
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According to State Department, the new restrictions will allow it to review the level of its cooperation with Islamabad before making new commitments.
‘The Department notified Congress on August 30 of our intent to obligate $255 million in FY 2016 Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan. At the same time, the Department is placing a pause on spending those funds and on allocating them to any specific FMF sales contracts,’ said the State Department in a statement sent to leading daily Dawn.
The significance of said fund, FMF can be gauged fom the fact that it provides grants and loans to assist countries purchase US weapons and defence equipment and for acquiring defence services and military training in the United States.
The state department revealed that the decision was consistent with the new South Asian policy which would give leverage to Trump-led America to review level of cooperation with Pakistan prior to committing new security assistance resources.
In its notification to the US Congress on Wednesday, the administration said it was putting the entire amount into an escrow account implying that Pakistan could access only if it did more to ‘eradicate alleged terrorist safe havens in the tribal areas and stopped cross-border attacks in Afghanistan’.
The funds were promised during the second stint of Barack Obama, back in 2015 with a pledge to release them by 2016,however, the Trump administration held back and attached new conditions.
The $255 million in military assistance was the largest portion of an estimated $1.1 billion of US aid Congress had authorised in 2016.
The State Department clarified that Washington valued its ties with Islamabad and wanted to see it prosper but at the same time ‘it also wanted Islamabad to do more to eradicate terrorism’.
‘The President has been clear that we are looking to the Pakistani government to take decisive action against militant groups based in Pakistan that are a threat to the region. It is vital to US interests that Pakistan prevent terrorist sanctuaries,” the message said.
‘Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our efforts in the region.’
Although US boasts about providing military aid to Pakistan in staggering figures, but the stats give a different picture as well as Laurel Miller, Washington’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
‘Over an extended period, the US has provided substantial support (to) Pakistan, primarily security related, but that’s been dwindling quite considerably over past years and is expected to dwindle further,’ she said.
‘And as a consequence, it’s not really a major point of leverage with the Pakistanis anymore. The US is not providing billions of dollars any longer to Pakistan.’
It bears mentioning that the relations between Pakistan and US turned sour after the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan but it seems that the climax of fraught relations is the new policy announced by Donald Trump last week.
In his Afghan policy, Trump besides announcing more troops for Afghanistan alleged Pakistan of providing safe havens to militants.
On the other hand, Pakistan rubbished the allegations and a joint resolution in this regard was passed by the National Assembly.