After Trump tweet, Pakistan talks of 'response' to USA action

After Trump tweet, Pakistan talks of 'response' to USA action

After Trump tweet, Pakistan talks of 'response' to USA action

Taking the strictest action against Pakistan, the USA has announced that it was freezing most security aid and the delivery of military equipment because Islamabad continues to shelter terrorists despite several warnings from President Donald Trump and other leaders.

"Today we can confirm that we are suspending national 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", State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.

Initially vague information on how much money and materiel was being withheld suggested the primary goal was to substantiate President Donald Trump's surprising New Year's Day tweet that accused Pakistan of playing US leaders for "fools".

The U.S. State Department announced the decision, saying it reflected the Trump administration's frustration that Pakistan has not done more against the two groups, which have long used sanctuaries in Pakistan to launch attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan that have killed U.S., Afghan and other forces.

Nauert said that if Pakistan took decisive action against terrorists, it "has the ability to get this money back in the future".

Significantly, the report quoted a Washington Times report that China is in talks with Pakistan to build its second overseas military base as part of a push for greater maritime capabilities along strategic sea routes. And now Pakistan is clearly bearing the brunt of this ignorance.

"No more!" Trump said on twitter on Monday.

The rare reaction follows recent statements from top US officials, including President Donald Trump, accusing Islamabad of "playing a double-game" and providing safe havens to militants fighting in war-torn Afghanistan.

In the post-9/11 period, Pakistan emerged as one of the biggest recipients of USA aid because of its role as a regional ally in the American-led military intervention in Afghanistan.

While several factors including conflicts in the bilateral relationship on the back of rising influence of China in Pakistan along with changes in the USA strategy could be termed as a reason for this decrease in aid, one can say without a doubt that the U.S. government even under Barack Obama was indeed gradually moving in this direction.

The Trump administration had already announced that it would cut $255 million in funding while it reviews Pakistan's security strategies.

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A glance at USA budget figures suggest the amounts frozen could exceed $1 billion.

"They want to apply graduated pressure to Pakistan to change its policy, rather than abandon it altogether", security analyst Hasan Askari said.

Already frosty relations between the USA and Pakistan -the two allies in the so-called war against terrorism- have further nosedived since President Trump assumed office in January a year ago, mainly due to a clash of interests in Afghanistan.

The Trump administration briefed Congress on its decision on Wednesday.

U.S. aid has been suspended before, notably after the USA raid on the Pakistani town of Abbotabad in 2011 that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

In contrast to recent visits by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who spoke of "engagement and trust-building during their visits here. now President Trump and Vice President Pence are talking of threats, insults and 'putting Pakistan on notice, '" Dastagir said.

The latest USA defense budget signed by Trump in December allocates $700 million in conditional aid to reimburse Pakistan for supporting US military operations in Afghanistan, but the aid is facing more scrutiny.

"A balanced response is needed that would preserve the country's dignity while engaging with the U.S.", Sadiq said.

Pakistan, which serves as a key transport route for supplies to US forces in Afghanistan, denies harboring terrorists.

Drone strikes have been a frequent tactic by the U.S forces since 2004 to target suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region, mainly North and South Waziristan, which border Afghanistan.

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