Withholding Aid From Pakistan Isn't Enough

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The United States is determined and committed to not allowing Pakistan to continue as a safe haven for terrorists from where they can attack the USA and its allies, said the senior Trump administration official who spoke to a group of reporters on condition of anonymity. It also placed the country on a watch list of nations failing to protect religious freedom.

Pakistan has fought fierce campaigns against homegrown Islamist groups, and says it has lost thousands of lives and spent billions of dollars in its long war on extremism. Some Pakistani officials reacted harshly but Foreign Ministry statement talked about the need for mutual respect and patience to address the common threat of terrorism, it added.

Some regional analysts question whether the Trump administration has a plan for how to move forward, or if the decision to cut funding was a reaction to recent comments from Pakistan's foreign minister, who accused Trump on Wednesday of lying about how much aid the USA gives Pakistan. President Trump's provocative tweet accompanying the United States decision to withhold coalition support funds to Pakistan has caused significant consternation amongst our policymakers.

The Afghanistan-Pakistan region is home to the "highest regional concentration" of terrorist groups in the world, according to the US military. The United States acknowledges and appreciates Pakistan's successful efforts to combat militants that threaten the Pakistani state, such as the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaida, and ISIS. "So the disagreement is much more about those facts than it is on our overarching goals in the strategy", the official said, adding that the USA has conveyed to Pakistan specific and concrete steps that it could take toward these ends. Nauert said that despite sustained high-level engagement with Pakistan's government, "the Taliban and Haqqani network continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilize Afghanistan and attack U.S. and allied personnel".

But at this time, the U.S. prefers to cooperate with Pakistan and is hopeful about it, the official said.

Rana said the USA needs Pakistan if it wants to find a peaceful end to decades of turmoil, and if it wants to navigate the changing circumstances in neighboring Iran, which has seen anti-government protests in recent days. "They have to take decisive steps", she added. Quite unsurprisingly they are arguing that Pakistan can ride out this drop in assistance, that Pakistan may lack the requisite ability to rein in the various terrorist networks that are operating on its soil, and that it can make it exceedingly hard for the United States to continue supplying its forces in Afghanistan.

The tension between the two governments was evident during a meeting between Asif and national security adviser H.R. McMaster in October at the White House, Asif said in Thursday's TV interview.

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"Mr. Trump could marshal other diplomatic tools to see if more constructive cooperation with Pakistan is possible". They said they could make exceptions to fund critical US national security priorities.

"We have made very clear what our expectations are", the official said.

Pakistan and the United States settled into an uneasy alliance after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, with Pakistan arresting al-Qaeda operatives and allowing drone attacks inside its airspace.

The president tweeted late Friday that ending U.S. assistance to Pakistan would be a "Good Idea", in response to a tweet from U.S. Senator Rand Paul.

The United States has given Pakistan more than $20 billion in reimbursements and military assistance since 2002, but that aid has diminished over the years, to the point that Pakistani officials have insisted that its suspension will have minimal impact.

Prominent among the suspended amount include $255 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress. "And we want to indicate Pakistan our seriousness about the issue of dealing with safe havens", the official said. We also must simultaneously remain engaged with the US, Europe, Iran, Afghanistan and other stakeholders in the effort to secure stabilisation.

The Trump administration on Thursday announced its intention to suspend an estimated $1 billion in military aid to Pakistan due to years of "lies & deceit".