US suspending security aid to Pakistan

WASHINGTON: The US State Department said on Thursday it was suspending security assistance to Pakistan until Islamabad takes action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, which Washington believes is destabilizing the region.

State Department spokeswoman Heather 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. She said some of the aid could still be permitted if Islamabad takes decisive action against the groups.

“Today we can confirm that we are suspending … 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. We consider them to be destabilizing the region and also targeting US personnel,” she told a regular news briefing.

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The administration is already holding up $255 million in assistance which is used by Pakistan to buy US military equipment until it cracks down on extremists threatening Afghanistan.

Nauert said the latest measure would also suspend other security assistance, but did not specify what that covered, saying it was administered by the Defense Department.
Earlier Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the policy on military aid is “still being formulated.”

The Trump administration accused Pakistan of severe violations of religious freedom in a further sign of deteriorating relations.

The State Department announced that it’s placing the South Asian nation on a special watch list. The step does not carry any serious consequences, but it comes in the wake of stiff criticism from President Donald Trump this week.

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On Monday, Trump reiterated US concerns that Pakistan provides safe havens for militants, saying it had played US leaders for “fools.” The administration is currently holding up $255 million in military assistance for Pakistan until it cracks down on extremists threatening Afghanistan.

The State Department did not elaborate on reasons for Pakistan’s inclusion on the watch list. Pakistan’s embassy in Washington and mission at the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Source Credit: Arab News

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