Blow To New PM Imran Khan As US Pentagon Moves To Scrap $300 Million Aid To Pakistan

| September 2 , 2018 , 11:16 IST

In a big blow for new Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the US military is seeking to relocate $300 million in aid to Pakistan over Islamabad's lack of "decisive actions" in support of regional American strategy against terrorism, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

The US has been adding pressure on Pakistan to crack down on safe havens for terrorists in its country, which the US has said is hampering the peace efforts in neighbouring Afghanistan. In August, the US Congress has passed a defence spending bill capping its security-related aid to Pakistan at $150 million per year, from the nearly $1.2 billion that was provided under the President Barack Obama administration.

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"Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy... $300M (actually $323.6M to include non-Pakistan funds) was reprogrammed by (the Defense Department) in the June/July 2018 time frame for other urgent priorities," Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said to AFP.

The Defense Department "is awaiting congressional determination on whether this reprogramming request will be approved or denied," Faulkner said.

However, Pakistan claims that it has fought fierce campaigns against homegrown militant groups and has lost thousands of lives and spent millions of dollars in its war on extremism.

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The White House, on the other hand, alleges that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and other military bodies have long helped fund and arm terrorists for ideological reasons.

In a strongly worded tweet on January 1 this year, US President Donald Trump said, "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

The US on August 25 "at the direction of the president," after reviewing aid programs to the Palestinian territories, cancelled more than $200 million in aid for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.