US 'Needs Pakistan, Won't Fully Cut Off Assistance' - Security Analyst

09 January, 2018, 00:59 | Author: Bert Pena
  • Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif  File

"We're hoping that Pakistan will see this as an incentive, not a punishment", he added.

It is "approximately two billion worth of equipment and coalition support funding that is in play", the senior official said on condition of anonymity. But the unfortunate reality is that publicly shaming Pakistan, as Trump has done, and even the cuts in the security aid have very little real impact on a country whose skin has grown comfortably thick from rhetorical battering.

A day after the United States government suspended almost $2 billion security-related assistance to Pakistan, President Donald Trump expressed public support for a Republican senator's plan to introduce legislation, cancelling all aid to the country over its continued refusal to take tangible action against terrorists. In 2009, then-president Barack Obama pointed to the terrorist "safe havens" in Pakistan as part of the need to ramp up American troop levels in Afghanistan.

Currently, the USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation depend on Pakistan for logistical support for their operations in Afghanistan, a key part of fighting terrorism.

Analysts believe the United States is highly unlikely to freeze all that funding, which, according to the source, totals $1.9 billion. In 2012, when there were far more North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan, that totaled about $1 million per day. "We expect far more cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorism".

The Pakistani officials their interlocutors that the country is still coping with the consequences of Britain's Afghan adventures.

For years, Pakistan's deep state (controlled by its all-powerful military and covert agencies) has used terrorism as an instrument of asymmetric warfare both in India and Afghanistan. They said they could make exceptions to fund critical USA national security priorities. "Prior year funding for equipment that have not yet been delivered would be suspended".

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Now, the Defense Department has been instructed to stop making payments from "coalition support funds" set aside to refund Pakistani spending on counter-terrorist operations.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said that Islamabad's alliance with Washington is over.

The announcement ignited some small protests in Pakistan on Friday, including in Chaman, one of the two main crossings on the border with Afghanistan where several hundred people gathered to chant anti-US slogans. In Karachi, the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) - a religious part conglomerate of 40 religious parties and sectarian groups - burnt a USA flag and picture of Mr. Trump. "So we just disagree with that", said the official who was responding to a question to a statement made by Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawja Asif who had alleged that the United States is "trumpeting India's lies and deceit" and is speaking the "language of Indians". "Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing", the statement concluded. In December, Vice-President Mike Pence secretly travelled to the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan to announce: "Trump has put Pakistan on notice". American troops may have been fighting battles there for more than 16 years, but Trump is hardly in a position to call all the shots.

But, the official said, it was "difficult but not impossible" to find other ways to get equipment in, and the U.S. was also anxious about its credibility if it continues to fund a country harboring America's enemies.

The move, which U.S. officials had hinted at for months, was greeted optimistically in Afghanistan. "They are saying that they are not very dependent on the USA".

On Thursday, the US State Department also tweeted that it has placed deeply conservative Muslim Pakistan on a special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom.

Pakistan, whose religious minorities have always been marginalized and targeted, said it rejects the designation and would seek a clarification from Washington.

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