Pakistan reacts after US suspends military aid, says fight against terrorism will suffer

Pakistan reacts after US suspends military aid, says fight against terrorism will suffer

Islamabad: Expressing its unhappiness over Donald Trump administration’s decision to freezing most security aid and the delivery of military equipment for failing to rein in terror groups, Pakistan on Friday said “arbitrary deadlines and unilateral pronouncements” are “counterproductive” in addressing common threats.

Pakistan Foreign Office said, “We are engaged with the US Administration on the issue of security cooperation and await further details. Impact of the US’ decision on pursuit of common objectives is also likely to emerge more clearly in due course of time”.

At the same time, the statement made it clear that “arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing common threats”.

Islamabad’s reaction comes after the US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced that the US will not be delivering military equipment or transfer security-related funds to Pakistan.

The freeze will be enforced “until the Pakistani Government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network”, Nauert said.

However, she also made it clear that Pakistan’s failure to take action against Jamaat-ud-Dawaa leader Hafiz Saeed was not a factor in the action.

The State Department spokesperson at a news briefing in Washington announced the US move to cut off aid, days after President Donald Trump made an scathing attack on Pakistan for giving nothing to America but “lies and deceit” in return for USD 33 billion aid and accused Islamabad of providing “safe haven” to terrorists.

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

“We have been clear with Pakistan what they need to do… A lot of this would fall under some of the private diplomatic conversations that the US government is having with Pakistan, so a lot of that stuff I’m not going to be able to share because that would give away information to people we don’t want to have that information.”

Nauert added that Pakistan had been given adequate notice to shut down the terrorist networks.

She recalled Trump’s speech in August in which he warned Pakistan against giving sanctuary to terrorists.

“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,” she said.

In his first tweet of the New Year, Trump said that the US had given Pakistan $ 33 billion in aid over 15 years and accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists while making “fools” of US leaders with lies and deceit.

“No more,” he said, of Washington’s aid to Pakistan.

In another action against Islmabad, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson placed Pakistan on a “special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom”.

The US depends on Pakistan for ferrying supplies to its troops in landlocked Afghanistan.

The announcement by the US led to some protests in the country, including in Chaman, one of the two main crossings on the border with Afghanistan where people chanted anti-US slogans.

Pakistan, it said, believes that its cooperation with the US in fighting terrorism directly serves America’s national security interests as well as the larger interests of international community, as it helped decimate Al-Qaeda and fight other groups who took advantage of ungoverned spaces, a long porous border and posed a common threat to peace.

Through a series of major counter-terrorism operations, Pakistan cleared all these areas resulting in elimination of organised terrorist presence leading to significant improvement in security in Pakistan, the statement said.

“Pakistan’s efforts towards peace are awaiting reciprocal actions from the Afghan side in terms of clearance of vast stretches of ungoverned spaces on that side, bilateral border management, repatriation of Afghan Refugees, controlling poppy cultivation, drug trafficking and initiating Afghan-led and owned political reconciliation in Afghanistan,” it said.

The FO also said that working towards enduring peace requires mutual respect and trust along with patience and persistence.

Highlighting the new threat of Daesh (IS), Pakistan said “emergence of new and more deadly groups such as Daesh in Afghanistan call for enhancing international cooperation.”

Asserting that Pakistan fought the war against terrorism largely from its own resources which has cost over USD 120 billion in 15 years, the FO said, “We are determined to continue to do all it takes to secure the lives of our citizens and broader stability in the region”.  

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