According to HuffPost, the Pentagon announced their final decision to cancel nearly $300 million in aid to Pakistan due to Islamabad’s failure to reign in Afghan militant groups in the nation’s capital.
President Trump previously suspended the military aid funds earlier in the year after accusing Pakistan of responding to U.S. support with “nothing but lies & deceit” and claiming that Islamabad has done nothing but welcome Afghan rebels, who have been at war with each other for over 17 years.
While Defense Secretary Jim Mattis temporarily suspended the aid in hopes that Pakistan might be able to later “win back” U.S. support over the summer, the millions in aid were eventually canceled altogether.
“Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy,” said Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner, “the remaining $300 (million) was reprogrammed,” adding that the Pentagon plans on spending the money on “other urgent priorities” pending the approval of Congress.
This announcement comes just days ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s scheduled trip to Islamabad. On Tuesday, Mattis said that the purpose of Pompeo’s visit would be to primarily discuss how Islamabad can better combat Afghan militants.
According to Sameer Lalwani, the co-director of the South Asia Program at the Stimson Center in Washington, the Pentagon’s decision to cancel aid “is a calibrated, incremental ratcheting up of pressure on Pakistan.”
Referring to Pakistan’s plunging foreign exchange reserves, Lalwani added, “They are squeezing them when they know that they’re vulnerable and it is probably a signal about what to expect should Pakistan come to the IMF for a loan.”
Suffering economically, Pakistan may very well need to request a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), although, it is also of importance to note that the United States currently maintains the fund’s greatest share of votes.
Newly-elected Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in his victory speech that he wants Pakistan to have a “mutually beneficial” relationship with the U.S., despite his previous claims that he wouldn’t hesitate to shoot down U.S. drones if they ever entered into Pakistani airspace. Khan has also long opposed U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
The US has confirmed it will cut $300 million in aid to Pakistan over its failure to tackle militant groups, especially the Taliban. https://t.co/G1fPb5cBHV
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) September 2, 2018
An anonymous Pakistani official reported that the country was not expecting to receive a final decision about U.S. assistance until the end of September, adding that he had yet to receive a formal notification.
Since the beginning of 2002, Pakistan has received over $33 billion in aid from the United States government.