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US Considers Other Measures Against Pakistan as Blowback Looms

10 January 2018

After the United States suspended about $ 2 billion security aid to Pakistan, it said that U.S. will "deal" with Pakistan if the nation fails to clamp down the Taliban and the Haqqani network and dismantle their safe havens.

The State Department's declaration Thursday signaled growing frustration over Pakistan's level of cooperation in fighting terrorist networks.

Alliance forces rely on Pakistani roads to haul supplies to landlocked Afghanistan.

Pakistanis rally against US President Donald Trump in Lahore city on January 2, 2018 after Trump slammed Pakistan for "lies & deceit" in a New Year's Day tweet that said Islamabad had played US leaders for "fools".

The US Defense Department has been instructed to stop making payments from Coalition Support Funds set aside to refund Pakistani spending on counter-terrorist operations.

"The specific individual things we're doing are best handled in private, to ensure that we can be most productive.And that's what we're working now", he said.

On Monday, Mr. Trump said the U.S. had "foolishly" given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had gotten nothing in return but "lies & deceit".

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis at his weekend briefing at the Pentagon urged Islamabad to cooperate with the US in defeating the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani Network which, he says, has safe havens inside Pakistan and uses them to recuperate and re-launch attacks into Afghanistan.

As commander of the US Central Command, Gen Votel is directly responsible for US war efforts in Afghanistan where Washington still maintains about 14,000 troops and other military assets. The United States demanded that Pakistan choose sides in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as their extremist allies who sought safe haven along Pakistan's lawless border.

"Today we can confirm that we are suspending. security assistance only to Pakistan at this time until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network".

Pakistan has long accused the USA of being a fickle ally. It announced that it was placing Pakistan on a special watch list, pursuant to 2016 legislation. That step does not carry any serious consequences.

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"He's monitoring Pakistan and how Pakistan has responded to our requests", the official said.

Simply withholding aid, as both of President Donald Trump's predecessors did at one time or another, won't necessarily change the calculus of Pakistan's generals. Today's announcement sends a signal about the USA administration's intent to hold Pakistan to account in the public domain.

A senior Pakistani senator expressed disappointment at the US decision to suspend military aid to Islamabad, saying it will be detrimental to Pakistani-US relations.

The tweet drew a strong reaction from Islamabad and saw the summoning of the United States ambassador to the Foreign Office of Pakistan in a rare public rebuke. Earlier Thursday, Mattis said the policy on military aid to Pakistan was "still being formulated". In fact, Pakistan encouraged Americans to fear the worst outcome: a rupture in the state security apparatus that would allow terrorists to get their hands on Pakistani nuclear know-how, fissile materials, or weapons-even as Pakistan used US funds to invest in such assets along the way.

U.S. assistance to Pakistan, which rose sharply after the 9/11 attacks, has been declining since 2011 when American commandos killed Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan, straining relations.

"Pakistan can not put all its eggs in the China basket", he added, referring to the billions of dollars China is investing in Pakistan on a major transportation and power grid. The official further said, "Hope that Pakistan would take actions that the USA was seeking as it will allow the relationship to return to a more positive trajectory".

"This is more of a political statement in response to pressure from the U.S., telling the USA that Pakistan has a great relationship with China and that Pakistan would become even closer with China", said Dong Dengxin, Director of the Finance and Securities Institute at Wuhan University of Science and Technology. He had called for tougher measures against Pakistan if it fails to cooperate with the USA in its fight against terrorism.

"No matter what, the relationship is in a bad spot right now".

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This story was reported by The Associated Press.

US Considers Other Measures Against Pakistan as Blowback Looms