US suspends security assistance to Pak: State Department

Washington, Jan 5 (PTI) The US has said that it has suspended all security assistance to Pakistan until Islamabad takes “decisive action” against terror groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, which according to Washington is destabilising the region.

The suspension would allow the Trump administration, which will freeze the aid payments but not allocate the money elsewhere, to reassess in the coming year, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.

She said the US is still working on the dollar figures.

“Today, we can confirm that we are suspending national security — or, excuse me — we are suspending security assistance only to Pakistan at this time,” she said.

Nauert said, Pakistan could receive the funding, if it takes decisive action against terrorism.

“Until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against terror groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network — we consider them to be destabilising the region and also targeting US personnel — the US will suspend that kind of security assistance to Pakistan,” Nauert said.

“It has been more than four months since the president’s speech, and despite a sustained high-level engagement by this administration with the government of Pakistan, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilise Afghanistan and also attack US and allied personnel,” Nauert said.

“Pakistan has greatly suffered from terrorism, and the security services have been effective in combating the groups that target Pakistani interests, such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Pakistani Taliban. We have now worked closely with Pakistan against these groups,” she said.

“Now, just as we have made Pakistan’s enemies our own, we need Pakistan to deny safe haven to or lawfully detain those terrorists and militants who threaten US interests,” she added.

The State Department spokesperson said, the US stands ready to work with Pakistan in combating all terrorists, without distinction, and hope to be able to renew and deepen the bilateral security relationship when Pakistan demonstrates its willingness to aggressively confront the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and other terrorists and militant groups that operate from within its country.

“So we will not be delivering military equipment or transfer security-related funds to Pakistan unless it is required by law. I think that part answers your questions.

There may be some exemptions that are made on a case-by-case basis, if they’re determined to be critical to national security interests,” Nauert told reporters.

She said that the US had a series of discussions with Pakistan about terrorism, and had asked the country the need to take more decisive action against terror groups.

This is something that should not come as a surprise to Pakistan, she said.

“Because the President, Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis have all had conversations with Pakistani officials, alerting them to our concerns that Pakistan has not done enough to detain, to take care of – and when I say take care of, I mean round up – terrorist and militant groups operating from within Pakistan,” the State Department spokesperson said.

President Donald Trump in an angry tweet on the New Year day had accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.

Soon after the president’s tweet, the White House had confirmed that the US had suspended its USD 255 million military aid to Pakistan.

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