In new year tweet, Trump threatens to stop aid to Pakistan
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Pakistan was U.S. President Donald Trump’s target of ire on January 1, as he threatened to stop financial assistance to Islamabad. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” the President said on Twitter on Monday morning.
Pakistan has been a recipient of U.S. aid under various heads, but in recent years Washington has tightened the purse strings, demanding more action against terrorist networks in Afghanistan. In August 2017, the Trump administration kept $255 million in military assistance to Islamabad in suspension even as it demanded unpublicised, specific action against terrorists.
Mr. Trump’s Twitter post followed a New York Times report last week that the administration is planning to deny that money to Pakistan, from the the State Department’s assistance programme known as Foreign Military Financing (FMF).
A month ago, Secretary of Defence James Mattis told Pakistan that it “must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country,” during a visit there, according to a Pentagon statement.
Mr. Trump’s new year Twitter post is indicative that his administration is not satisfied with Pakistan’s response to the U.S. demand.
Unveiling his strategy for Afghanistan in August 2018, Mr. Trump called out Pakistan and named India as a partner. “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” he said.
There was significant scaling down of U.S assistance to Pakistan in the later years of the Obama administration. In 2014 it was $ 2177 million; in 2015, $ 1604 million; in 2016, $ 1118 million and in 2017 $ 526 million. The U.S has also made disbursement of Pentagon’s Coalition Support Funds (CSF) more stringent. CSF is reimbursement to Pakistan for logistical and operational support of U.S-led military operations.
In 2015, $ 300 million of the CSF was tied to a certification requirement, which cannot be waived by the Administration, that Pakistan was taking adequate action against the Haqani network. That component increased in the following years - in 2016, $350 million of $900 million became ineligible for waiver and in 2017, $ 400 million of $900 million.
The Obama administration did not certify in Pakistan’s favor in 2015, and 2016. A decision by the Trump administration on CSF for 2017 is pending. The defence budget for 2018 reduced the CSF allocation to $700 million and tied half of it to action against Haqqani Network. A Congressional move to include Lashkar-e-Taiba also in the same category of certification requirement was dropped after the Pentagon resisted it, recently.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has called for special meeting of the Cabinet on January 2 to discuss Mr. Trump's statement. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khwaja M. Asif said the country would officially respond to Mr. Trump's allegations shortly.
"We will respond to President Trump's tweet shortly inshallah..." Mr. Asif tweeted. "Will let the world know the truth..difference between facts & fiction.."
In his new South Asia Policy unveiled in August, Mr. Trump called for tougher measure against Pakistan if it did not cooperate with the U.S. in its fight against terrorism.