Pentagon suspends $300M in military aid to Pakistan

Pakistani demonstrators shout anti-US slogans at a protest in Quetta

Pakistani demonstrators shout anti-US slogans at a protest in Quetta

In a tit-for-tat move, the U.S. military has announced that it was cancelling $300 million in aid to ally Pakistan over what it calls Islamabad's failure to take action against terror groups, a new blow to worsening bilateral ties between the two countries.

Faulkner said the Pentagon aimed to spend the $300 million on "other urgent priorities" if approved by Congress.

These facts, however, have come to light ahead of the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Pakistan on September 5, where, according to Mattis, combating militants will be a "primary part of the discussion" between the two countries.

"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", Trump wrote on Twitter at the beginning of the year.

"We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups", Faulkner said, adding that the latest aid cut request was pending Congressional approval.

Blaming the previous PML-N government of the current state of bilateral ties with the US, Qureshi said, "The last government had no engagement, no dialogue [with the US administration] ... in fact there was an nearly total breakdown of talks". Pakistan, which serves as a key route for transporting supplies to USA forces in Afghanistan, has repeatedly denied harboring terrorists.

"The $300 million is neither aid nor assistance - it is the money Pakistan spent from its resources against militants and in the war against terrorism".

"This $300m was neither any aid nor assistance", said Pakistan's new Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday.

Last August, Trump announced a new strategy for South Asia focused on eliminating terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mattis chose not to, a USA official told Reuters.

Blaming the previous PML-N government for the existing state of bilateral ties with the US, Qureshi said, "The last government had no engagement, no dialogue [with the US administration] ... in fact there was an nearly total breakdown of talks".

Though the funds have been withheld this year, Pakistan could again be eligible next year for CSF, with United States officials saying that Islamabad could win back that support if it changed its behaviour.

Pakistan has always been accused of using the Afghan Taliban to further its foreign policy interests in the country. Haley said Pakistan would work with the U.S.at times, while at the same time harboring terrorists that attack American troops in Afghanistan. He had said Pakistan is not doing anything to stop terrorism.

Pakistan is also likely to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package soon.

"With the visit of the US Secretary of State we have an opening and a beginning can be made, and we will try to build a consensus in areas of mutual interest", he said.

In March, a senior USA official said Islamabad had "done the bare minimum to appear responsive to our requests". Defence Secretary James Mattis said: "It will be made clear to authorities in Pakistan that what we have to do for all our nations".

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