USA announces suspension of security assistance to Pakistan

The shift in the US policy doesn’t seem to be a knee-jerk reaction by the Donald Trump administration

"The real challenges in Afghanistan were political infighting, massive corruption, phenomenal growth of drug production and expansion of ungoverned spaces inside Afghanistan full of sanctuaries for multiple global terrorist organizations, posing a serious and direct threat to Afghanistan, its neighbors including Pakistan and the entire region", stated Pakistani Foreign office. "That seems pretty simple", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference.

"The real challenges in Afghanistan were political infighting, massive corruption, phenomenal growth of drug production and expansion of ungoverned spaces inside Afghanistan full of sanctuaries for multiple global terrorist organizations, posing a serious and direct threat to Afghanistan, its neighbors and the entire region", read Tuesday's Pakistani statement.

A day after Trump's tweet, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley confirmed the White House is withholding $255 million aid for Pakistan and defended the US criticism of Islamabad, alleging it played a "double game" with the United States for years. Trump in his first tweet of the new year had said that the USA has already given $33 billion in aid to Pakistan in over 15 years.

Trump had also accused Pakistan of providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for United States dollars 33 billion aid over the last 15 years. "The President is simply following through on a commitment that he made, because this is a President that does what he says he's going to do".

"We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time [when] they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting", he said, warning that the vital aid the USA offers to the country could be cut. Earlier Thursday, Mattis said the policy on military aid to Pakistan was "still being formulated".

Thousands of USA and coalition forces in Afghanistan still rely mostly on ground and air routes through neighboring Pakistan for receiving vital supplies.

Pakistan has expressed "deep disappointment" over the U.S. statements, saying the accusations strike with "great insensitivity" at the trust between the two countries.

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"On the face of it, President Trump's remarks about Pakistan show his complete disregard of ground facts and his rowdy insistence to push his foreign policy preferences through Twitter rather than the State Department on the other", Ghauri said. Pakistan has increasingly turned for economic support to northern neighbour China, which is investing tens of billions in transportation links and power generation as it extends its strategic footprint across Asia.

Spokesperson Heather Nauert said Pakistan can certainly "do more" and stands to gain from additional cooperation with the United States.

Asif declared that United States have suffered huge losses in Afghanistan.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Wilson Center's South Asia program, said suspension of USA security assistance to Pakistan would not torpedo relations but it was a significant step backward.

As recently as October, Trump credited U.S. "It is natural for us to enhance communication and exchanges", Geng said.

The Express Tribune noted that Islamabad refuses to "do more" to combat terrorism in South Asia. "But if the pressure tactics fail, stability in Afghanistan could worsen, and the USA war effort in Afghanistan will grow even more complicated than it already is", said Mr. Kugelman.

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