Taking the strictest action against Pakistan, the US has announced that it was freezing most security aid and the delivery of military equipment because Islamabad continues to shelter terrorists despite several warnings from President Donald Trump and other leaders.
The move it appears is yet another sign of US frustration with Pakistan’s refusal to crack down on terrorist networks operating there.
"We will not be delivering military equipment or transfer security-related funds to Pakistan," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Thursday. The freeze will be enforced "until the Pakistani Government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network", she said. Nauert said that Pakistan's failure to take action against Lakshar-e-Taiba leader Hafeez Saeed was not a factor in the action.
"To my knowledge, that has nothing to do with that."
Here are the top developments so far
1. The US has suspended more than $1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of harbouring terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network within its border and showing unwillingness to take "decisive actions" against them.The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes days after President Donald Trump in a new year tweet accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but "lies and deceit"+ and providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for $33 billion aid over the last 15 years.
2.Prominent among the suspended amount include $255 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress. In addition, the Department of Defense has suspended the entire $900 million of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) money to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017.
3. In another action against Islamabad, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson placed Pakistan on a "special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom".
4. According to the New York Times, "the move underlines how swiftly relations with Pakistan have deteriorated since Mr. Trump took office. But it echoes several previous rifts between the countries over Pakistan’s role as a sanctuary for extremist groups — a role that has poisoned Islamabad’s relations with Washington since the terrorist attacks of September 2001.Administration officials emphasized that the freeze was temporary and could be lifted if Pakistan changed its behavior. The United States is urging the Pakistani government to cut off contact with militants and reassign intelligence agents with links to extremists, among other measures."
5.The US depends on Pakistan for ferrying supplies to its troops in landlocked Afghanistan. Asked at a separate news conference on Thursday if he was concerned that Islamabad might shut down access routes to US troops in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said: "We have had no indication of anything like that."
6. Pakistan had been given adequate notice to shut down the terrorist networks.Trump's speech in August i had warned Pakistan against giving sanctuary to terrorists. In his first tweet of the New Year, Trump said that the US had given Pakistan $33 billion in aid over 15 years and accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists while making "fools" of US leaders with lies and deceit. "No more," he said, of Washington's aid to Pakistan.
7.Hours before the tweet, a US Special Forces soldier had been killed in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, and four were injured in a terrorist attack.
8.According to the Express Tribune, Pakistan has dragged India into its war of words with the US. Pakistan's foreign minister Khawaja Asif said the US is "trumpeting India's lies and deceit", that the two countries have a "nexus" and that the US "is speaking the language of Indians". "The United States and India have a nexus, they understand their interests are same in the region," said Asif, in an interview with Geo TV yesterday.
9. This decision reflects the President’s conclusion that Pakistan has not taken the necessary decisive action, as requested by the United States and as promised by Pakistan’s leaders, against terrorist and militant groups in the region,” said the talking points memo. “Terrorists who threaten US interests and personnel continue to enjoy safe haven and support in Pakistan. The United States has not seen tangible evidence that Pakistan is evicting or lawfully detaining Taliban and Haqqani Network leaders and operatives on its soil,"it said.
10. Heather Nauert, the US department’s spokeswoman, said the administration was still working out the precise dollar amounts that would be frozen. Though the move was months in the planning, officials said the announcement was rushed by a few days to catch up to Trump’s Twitter post on Monday, which drew a toxic reaction from Pakistan.
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