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08 January 2018, 03:16 | Katrina Lee
Gwadar is strategically located in the Arabian Sea and some 70 km away from Iran's Chabahar port being developed by India
Putting Pakistan on notice, the USA on Friday suspended over $1.15 billion in security aid and the supply of military equipment to it for failing to clamp down on the dreaded Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups and dismantle their sanctuaries on its soil. Trump's tweet on the first day of 2018 gave a political push from the White House.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said that Islamabad's alliance with Washington is over.
Interestingly, the USA official said that while public pronoucements have focussed on safe havens for thr Haqqani network and Taliban, conversations with Pakistan have also included "concerns about their nuclear program... the ability of anti-India groups like Lashkar-e Tayyiba and Jaish-e Mohammed to fundraise and operate; and Hafiz Saeed, the head of Lashkar-e Tayyiba, who was recently released from house arrest". The US also suspended the transfer of military equipment and other funds to Islamabad. The amount appropriated in a certain year usually "expires" by September 30 of the next year.
However, hesitation from the USA does not give us the license to take an overly aggressive attitude, as Khawaja Asif did, in declaring we were no longer allies. Tillerson gave directions at the time of its expiry to keep $255 million separately and "withhold placing any of those funds on actual contacts". Meanwhile, department of defence spokesperson Lt Col Mike Andrews told PTI that National Defense Authorisation Act 2017 provides up to $900 million for Pakistan in the CSF. Specifically more has to be done to counter the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.
It is "approximately two billion worth of equipment and coalition support funding that is in play", the official said on condition of anonymity.
The upcoming months will tell whether this is a temporary stumble in the long-standing allyship of Pakistan and United States, or whether these are signs of a divorce.
Republican senator Bob Corker, who is also the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported the administration's decision.
The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes after President Donald Trump in a New Year's Day tweet accused the country of giving nothing to the U.S. but "lies and deceit" and providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for $33 billion aid over the last 15 years. Contrary to expectations, after President Trump assumed office almost a year ago, India-US ties have been bolstered by the straight talking Trump. Another Republican senator, Rand Paul, said that he would introduce legislation to eliminate all United States aid to Pakistan.
"These sanctuaries really threaten stability in the region and they continue to fuel the overall terrorism problem that we're facing", he said.
"The president has shown that he is willing to speak with clarity when he talks about Pakistan and our relationship", the official said. "We expect far more cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorism".
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