Sat, 01 Sep 2018 - 08:49 GMT
U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis attends the swearing in ceremony for new Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 30, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
WASHINGTON – 1 September 2018: The U.S. military announced Saturday that it has made its “final decision” to suspend $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.”
Exclusive: Pentagon cancels aid to Pakistan over record on militants https://t.co/yLEEwTmnNE— Reuters Politics (@ReutersPolitics) September 1, 2018
According to Reuters, the so-called Coalition Support Funds were part of a broader suspension in aid to Pakistan announced by President Donald Trump at the start of the year, when he accused Pakistan of rewarding past assistance with "nothing but lies & deceit."
The Trump administration says Islamabad is granting safe haven to insurgents who are waging a 17-year-old war in neighboring Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan denies.
But U.S. officials had held out the possibility that Pakistan could win back that support if it changed its behavior.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in particular, had an opportunity to authorize $300 million in CSF funds through this summer - if he saw concrete Pakistani actions to go after insurgents. Mattis chose not to, a U.S. official told Reuters.
"Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy the remaining $300 (million) was reprogrammed," Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said.
Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world by population and the 40th largest economy, with GDP growth reaching 5.3% in 2017. The United States is Pakistan’s largest export destination country.
The move, which has not been previously reported, is one of the first known impacts from Trump’s decision this year to suspend U.S. security assistance to Pakistan to compel it to crack down on Islamic militants.
The Pentagon and the Pakistani military did not comment directly on the decision or the internal deliberations, but officials from both countries privately criticized the move.
U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, said they were worried the decision could undermine a key trust-building measure. Pakistani officials warned it could push their military to further look to China or Russia for leadership training.
The effective suspension of Pakistan from the U.S. government’s International Military Education and Training program (IMET) will close off places that had been set aside for 66 Pakistani officers this year, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters.