USA military decides to cancel $300 million aid to Pakistan

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in Capitol Hill in Washington US

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in Capitol Hill in Washington US

Officials in Pakistan are downplaying the significance of a USA military plan to cancel $300 million assistance to the country for not doing enough against terrorist groups inside its borders.

Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Koné Faulkner said the United States military would aim to spend the money on other "urgent priorities".

Earlier this year Mr Trump suspended so-called coalition support funds, accusing Pakistan of rewarding past assistance with "nothing but lies and deceit".

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.

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A description of the call released by the State Department said Pompeo raised "the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan and its vital role in promoting the Afghan peace process". Another $500 million in CSF was stripped by Congress from Pakistan earlier this year, to bring the total withheld to $800 million. The US aid cut-off has come on the heels of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif's warm visit to Pakistan in which the latter emphasised its support for Iran and the nuclear deal that the US unilaterally pulled out of.

Faulkner said since January, they have consistently engaged with Pakistani military officials at the highest levels, based on both a shared commitment to defeat all terrorist groups that threaten regional stability and security, as well as on a shared vision of a peaceful future for Afghanistan.

Although since 2001 Pakistan has allowed its territory to be used to supply worldwide troops during the war in Afghanistan, and co-operated with the West in fighting some terrorists groups like al-Qaeda, analysts say it has continued to give shelter and support to Afghan insurgents.

But Trump's aggressive language has especially angered Pakistani officials.

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US President Donald Trump's administration has wasted little time in ramping up pressure on new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's government to end alleged official support for Islamic militants.

"US secretary of state's meeting with PM Imran will be against protocol", Rabbani said while speaking to the media.

Global relations expert Huma Baqai said the Pakistan-US ties had deteriorated like 'never before.' "We still have a chance as Pompeo and Dunford are coming for talks". The United States has the largest share of votes at the International Monetary Fund.

Pakistan is still believed to have the strongest influence over the Taliban, making its cooperation necessary for peace talks. "This is the money which Pakistan has already spent through its own resources and [the US] was to reimburse it to us". "The US should understand Pakistan's position", she said.

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During the visit, Sidhu had hugged Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, triggering a torrent of criticism from the BJP and also from within his Congress party, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Hussain cited tension in the US relations with China, Russia, and Iran.

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