Pentagon Cancels $300 Million in Aid to Pakistan

American External affairs minister

American External affairs minister

The U.S. military said it has made a final decision to cancel $300 million in aid to Pakistan that had been suspended over Islamabad's perceived failure to take decisive action against militants, in a new blow to deteriorating ties.

Pentagon Spokesman Kone Faulkner said the U.S. military will aim to spend the money on other urgent priorities before the funds expire on September 30, 2018.

He said the other $500 million in Coalition Support Funds was stripped by Congress from Pakistan earlier this year, to bring the total withheld to $800 million.

He maintained that it was not the aid that was cancelled, rather "it was all our money that we spent and they were merely reimbursing it".

"We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network and LET in the region", Lt. Col. Faulkner said, referring to the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The White House believes that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and other military bodies have long helped fund and arm the Taliban for ideological reasons, but also to counter rising Indian influence in Afghanistan.

The Trump administration has claimed Islamabad is granting safe haven to militants who are waging a 17-year-old war in neighboring Afghanistan - a charge Pakistan denies. The request has not yet been approved. "The DoD will have a congressional response before September 30, 2018, to allow the DoD to implement the reprogramming actions", the spokesman said.

Pakistani leaders disputed the US$33 billion figure, insisting that around half of the money relates to reimbursements, and the prime minister's office accused Trump of ignoring the great sacrifices the country has made to fight extremism.

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His foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said Sunday in Islamabad that he's expecting a visit Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Earlier he told the BBC Urdu that the U.S. in principle should pay back the money to Pakistan because it was spent for a common objective to defeat militancy and create peace and stability.

"We will sit with him, present our point of view and exchange ideas".

Others say the USA risks driving Pakistan further into the orbit of China, which is investing heavily in the country. That agenda includes using terrorists to shape the post-war future in Afghanistan - a future they wish to dominate.

A Pakistani official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he was unaware of a formal notification of the United States decision on assistance but said one was expected by the end of September. He stated stalemate persisted in Pak-US ties during tenure of Nawaz-led Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz's government.

Qureshi said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government was not responsible for the latest tension or suspension of funds by the United States as the deal to reimburse Pakistan the cost of war on terror was agreed in past.

The Pentagon has threatened similar crakdowns on aid in the past but this year's move could get more attention from Islamabad and its new prime minister Imran Khan at a time when its economy is struggling.

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