USA cancels Pakistan aid over militant record

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

The Pentagon said the decision was down to what it perceived as Islamabad's lack of "decisive actions" against militants.

However, Pakistan has denied any such charges.

At a hurriedly called press conference after the Pentagon announced that the U.S. will cancel Dollars 300 million in military aid to Pakistan over its failure to take actions against terror groups, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the matter will be taken up during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to the country on September 5.

The Coalition Support Funds were part of a broader suspension in aid to Pakistan announced by President Donald Trump at the start of the year, when he accused Pakistan of rewarding past assistance with "nothing but lies and deceit".

The Defence Department has sought to cut aid by $300 million "due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy", Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said in an email to AFP.

The disclosure came ahead of an expected visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US General Joseph Dunford, to Islamabad. Meanwhile, scores of army officials have also been cut from coveted training and educational programmes in the US, Reuters reported this month, a blow to one of the hallmarks of a longstanding military alliance.

The spokesman explained the plan will be submitted to Congress for approval and it will bring the total amount withheld from Pakistan under the Coalition Support Funds to $800 million since early this year.

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The Haqqani network is a militant group that focuses most of its activities on neighbouring Afghanistan, which has complained for years that Pakistan allows it to operate unimpeded from its soil across the border.

The Pentagon's decision showed that the United States, which has sought to change Pakistani behaviour, is still increasing pressure on Pakistan's security apparatus.

Pakistan Foreign Office refuted the USA statement which said "Pompeo raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan".

By announcing that aid would be "reprogrammed", the administration has left open the possibility that it could be reconstituted if Pakistan fell in line with U.S objectives, while signaling it is ready with even harsher steps if Islamabad remained defiant. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Joseph Dunford will accompany him to Pakistan, as they become the first senior USA officials to meet the Pakistan premier since his swearing-in ceremony last month.

"The impression that has been given in their press release, which mentions terrorists operating in Pakistan, is in contrast with reality". Pakistan claimed that terrorism was never discussed, and asked the State Department to make a correction in its readout of the call.

The announcement came just weeks after Pakistan's newly elected prime minister Imran Khan took office. Analysts note that the United States maintains the largest share of votes at the International Monetary Fund and so would have a strong voice on the terms and conditions of any bailout. But in its fresh decision, the United States has chose to totally end all sort of financial support to Pakistan military.

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