Donald Trump scraps $300M Pakistan aid cash over terrorism claims

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In the latest blow to already fragile ties between the United States and Pakistan, the Defense Department said on Saturday it has suspended $300 million in funding to Islamabad over what it calls the government's failure to take action against terrorists.

"Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy, the remaining $300 [million] was reprogrammed", Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Kone Faulkner said September 1.

Previously this year, Congress canceled $500 million in CSF monies to Pakistan. "This is the money they (US) are supposed to reimburse, but now either they are not willing or unable to pay back", Qureshi said during a hurriedly called press conference on Sunday after the USA announced the decision.

"We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network and LET in the region", Lt. Col. Faulkner said, referring to the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The Trump administration a year ago resolved to take tougher line with Pakistan than previous US administrations. The request has not yet been approved.

Pakistani leaders disputed the US$33 billion figure, insisting that around half of the money relates to reimbursements, and the prime minister's office accused Trump of ignoring the great sacrifices the country has made to fight extremism.

The move comes ahead of the Islamabad visit of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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Khan has repeatedly blamed Pakistan's participation in the US-led anti-terror campaign for the surge in terrorism on home soil over the last decade and has vowed to rebalance Islamabad's relationship with Washington. The $300 million cut and comments by a Pentagon spokesman suggest Washington does not feel this has happened and is ratcheting up the pressure. "We will strengthen bilateral ties under context of mutual interests.", Qureshi added.

"In terms of separating what was said during a campaign and what he said since the election, we want to give him (Mr. Khan) space to find the opportunities to improve things with India", Schriver said. "We will listen to him and present our point of view to him as well", he said. While the United States appears to believe this is a simple way to "punish" Pakistan for not behaving as they'd prefer, it also risks alienating Pakistan, and convincing them to stop providing aid to the U.S. at all, knowing there's a good chance they'll never get paid for it. "We have spent it", Qureshi said.

"There are two sides of a picture".

In March, a senior United States official said that Pakistan has "done the bare minimum to appear responsive to our requests", and concerns over a lack of action by Islamabad against militant groups still persist.

He added that there is a trust deficit between Pakistan and the USA but the government wants to improve the ties and build trust between the two countries.

Saying both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa were on the same page on internal and external security issues, the minister said Pakistan was quite clear "that India has no role to play in Afghanistan".

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