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Trump administration may withhold $255 million US aid to Pak

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 30, Dec 2017, 16:50 pm IST | UPDATED: 30, Dec 2017, 16:58 pm IST

Trump administration may withhold $255 million US aid to Pak New York: The Trump administration is strongly considering to withhold USD 255 million in aid to Pakistan, reflecting dissatisfaction with Islamabad's inaction against terror networks, a media report said.

The Trump administration's internal debate over whether to deny Pakistan the money is a test of whether Donald Trump will deliver on his threat to punish Islamabad for failing to cooperate on counterterrorism operations, the New York Times reported.

It said the relations between the US and Pakistan, long vital for both, have relaxed steadily since the president declared that Pakistan "gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror."

The US, which has provided Pakistan more than USD 33 billion in aid since 2002, said in August that it was withholding the USD 255 million until Pakistan did more to crackdown on terrorist groups.

"Senior administration officials met this month to decide what to do about the money, and American officials said a final decision could be made in the coming weeks," the daily said.

The New York Times report comes days after US Vice President Mike Pence said in Kabul that the Trump administration has put Pakistan on notice.

Pakistan, according to the daily, has refused to give the US access to one of the abductors of the Canadian-American family who were freed early this year, the latest disagreement in the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the countries.

"Now, the Trump administration is strongly considering whether to withhold USD 255 million in aid that it had delayed sending to Islamabad, according to American officials, as a show of dissatisfaction with Pakistan's broader intransigence toward confronting the terrorist networks that operate there," the New York Times report said.

"The Americans demanded access to the man, but Pakistani officials rejected those requests, the latest disagreement in the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the countries," it added.

Earlier in July, the Pentagon said it would withhold USD 50 million in military reimbursements for Pakistan because the country had not taken "sufficient action" against the Haqqani network.

The Trump administration had agreed to provide the USD 255 million military aid to Pakistan, with conditions attached - the US State Department said that Islamabad could access the funds only if it acts against terror groups based in the tribal areas and stop cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

The $255 million in military assistance was the largest portion of an estimated $1.1 billion of US aid Congress had authorised in 2016.

The US claims that more than $33 billion in aid has been provided to Pakistan since 2002.

Although the volume of annual US assistance to Pakistan stands at $1.1 billion, hundreds of millions of dollars are withheld every year under different restrictions imposed since 2011, when relations between the two countries began to deteriorate after Osama bin Laden was found in Abbottabad.

Pakistan's military on Thursday warned the US against the possibility of taking unilateral action against armed groups on its soil, in its strongest response yet to tensions between the two allies.

Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor rejected the notion that Pakistan is not doing enough to fight armed groups.

He said Pakistan would continue to fight armed groups in the region in Pakistan's self-interest, rather than at the behest of other countries.
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