In a surprise decision, the United States Army Head Quarters has taken a decision to block funding to Pakistan to the extent of $350 million USD. As per sources, the Pentagon took this decision after pressure from the White House regarding the growing state sponsored terrorism in Pakistan.
The US decision comes as President Donald Trump’s administration is exploring possibly hardening its strategy toward Pakistan to crack down on militants launching strikes in neighboring Afghanistan.
The US has decided against the disbursement of $350 million in coalition support finance to Pakistan after defense secretary James Mattis advised Congress he wasn’t able to certify that Islamabad has taken “sufficient action” to end the dreaded Haqqani network.
As a consequence of the notification by the defense secretary to Congress, the Department of Defence has reprogrammed remaining Coalition Support Funding, which is $350 million, into other accounts, defense department spokesman Adam Stump said.
The US decision comes as President Donald Trump’s administration is exploring possibly hardening its strategy toward Pakistan to crack down on militants launching strikes in neighboring Afghanistan. “This choice does not prejudge the decisions of this White House review of South Asia strategy, which is still continuing,” Stump said.
Relations between the two countries have been frayed over the past decade, with US officials frustrated by what they phrase Islamabad’s “unwillingness to act against Islamist groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.” This isn’t the first time the Pentagon has decided not to make military reimbursements. Last year, the Pentagon withheld $300 million in reimbursements.
… the Taliban and the Haqqani Network continue to operate in different locations in Pakistan, Stump said, two days after the State Department in a report to the Congress had listed Pakistan among the countries having terrorist safe havens.
Pakistan-based Haqqani network is blamed for several of high-profile attacks on US and Western interests in war-torn Afghanistan. The terror group can be blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people. The network is believed to be based in the unruly tribal regions of Pakistan, close to the porous border with Afghanistan.
Mattis’s predecessor Ashton Carter was the first US defense secretary to refuse that certification. “The funds ($350 million) could not be released to the government of Pakistan at this time because the secretary couldn’t certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network as per the requirement in the FY 2016 NDAA,” Stump said.
“Pakistan has been reimbursed $550 million of the $900 million the country was authorized in FY16 CSF. With the secretary’s decision, there is absolutely no FY16 CSF available to Pakistan. The secretary decided to request reprogramming of the funds to retain the ability to use those funds for other requirements,” he explained.
As a portion of the regular Defence Department budgetary process, the FY16 CSF money allotted for Pakistan needed to be released or reprogrammed prior to the expiration of the funding, Stump said. “We continue to be encouraged by Pakistan’s operations in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the FATA. Pakistan’s efforts have reduced the ability of some militant groups to use North Waziristan and the FATA as a safe haven for terrorism,” he said.
However, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network continue to operate in different locations in Pakistan, Stump said, two days after the State Department in a report to the Congress had listed Pakistan among the countries having terrorist safe havens.
“In our discussions with Pakistani officials, we continue to stress that it’s in the interest of Pakistan to eliminate all safe havens and decrease the operational capacity of all militant organizations that pose a danger to the US and Pakistani interests as well as regional stability,” he explained.
The Coalition Support Fund (CSF) authority isn’t security assistance, but rather reimbursements to key cooperating nations for logistical, military and other support provided to US combat operations.
Pakistan is the largest recipient of CSF reimbursements. “CSF is only one component of the United States’ broad and enduring partnership with Pakistan,” Stump added.