U.S. freezes over $1.1 billion aid to Pakistan for harbouring terror groups

"After U.S. President Donald Trump used Twitter to slam Pakistan for harbouring terrorists, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday that it would suspend security assistance to Pakistan until the country takes decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network", it said quoting Reuters.

Mattis said the USA and Pakistan have had "strong disagreements on some issues and we're working those - the specific individual things we're doing are best handled in private to ensure that we can be most productive".

The official added Trump has suspended the aid after no promising results were reported to him despite four months of high-level engagement with Pakistan. Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif added that Trump was trying to blame Pakistan for the US' failure to win the war in Afghanistan and "that is the only reason he is flinging accusations at Pakistan".

"We do not believe this is the language of India". The council will now hold multiparty conferences in Faisalabad on January 12 and in Lahore on January 13 against the USA threats to Pakistan.

But Pakistan's foreign ministry issued a cautious statement in which it said it was "engaged" with United States officials and awaiting further details.

Pakistani officials are "going to become much more forceful in terms of their rhetoric towards the United States, especially because there's an election coming up, probably in May", said Shamila Chaudhary of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in an interview with Slate's Isaac Chotiner.

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The freeze also covers $255 million in FMF for fiscal year 2016, which falls under State Department authority and whose suspension has already been announced, as well as unspecified amounts of FMF that went unspent in earlier fiscal years.

The State Department said the U.S. decision reflected the Trump administration's frustration that Islamabad has not done more against the two groups, which have long used sanctuaries in Pakistan to launch attacks in Afghanistan that have killed American, Afghan and other forces.

US officials said two main categories of aid are affected: foreign military financing (FMF), which funds purchases of USA military hardware, training and services, and coalition support funds (CSF), which reimburse Pakistan for counter-terrorism operations.

"I just want to be clear that it's been suspended".

It was clear that the USA state department had not even decided on the exact quantum of aid that would be cut before it went public. "What matters, I think, to the Pakistanis is the - is the symbolism of doing this, that it represents a deterioration of our relationship, something that they care about a great deal", said a senior administration official.

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"There will be exceptions made".

Pakistan was engaged with the US administration on security cooperation and awaited further detail, it said. "I don't want to get into specific because the implementation is still being worked out but there certainly will be exceptions made when the items are deemed to be in the U.S. national security interests", the official said. But the unfortunate reality is that publicly shaming Pakistan, as Trump has done, and even the cuts in the security aid have very little real impact on a country whose skin has grown comfortably thick from rhetorical battering. "We have certainly expressed our concern about the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks being let out of house arrest in Pakistan".

FMF funds enable partner countries to buy "US defence articles, services, and training" and are provided either as a non-repayable grant or on a loan basis.

The president has been tightening the noose around Pakistan for not taking action against Haqqani network and Taliban and dismantling their safe havens. That said, the USA rushing in more troops to Afghanistan is definitely no music to Pakistan's military.

Kabul was anxious and would raise the issue with Pakistani authorities, said Zardasht Shams, an Afghan diplomat based in Islamabad, in a statement posted online.

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