The US military says it is cancelling $300m (£230m) in aid to Pakistan over what it calls Islamabad's failure to take action against militant groups.
The United States began providing economic assistance along with military aid to Pakistan shortly after the country’s creation in 1947. In total, the United States obligated nearly $67 billion to Pakistan between 1951 and 2011.
In 2009, in an attempt to signal the United States’ renewed commitment to Pakistan, the US Congress approved the Enhanced Partnership for Pakistan Act (commonly known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, or KLB). KLB’s intention was to put security and development on two separate tracks, insulating the development agenda from unpredictable geopolitical and military events and facilitating longer-term planning for development. The act authorized a tripling of US economic and development-related assistance to Pakistan, or $7.5 billion over five years (FY2010 to FY2014), to improve Pakistan’s governance, support its economic growth, and invest in its people.
President Donald Trump has previously accused Pakistan of deceiving the US while receiving billions of dollars. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Koné Faulkner said the US military would aim to spend the money on other "urgent priorities". The move, which needs to be approved by US Congress, is part of a broader suspension announced in January.
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,” Trump tweeted on January 1. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
The US state department has criticized Pakistan, a key ally, for failing to deal with terrorist networks operating on its soil, including the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban.
"We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups," Col. Faulkner said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the $300m Coalition Support Fund - which had earlier been suspended - should be used elsewhere due to "a lack of Pakistani decisive actions" in tackling the issue.
Faulkner said Congress from Pakistan stripped another $500 million in CSF earlier this year, to bring the total withheld to $800 million. But US officials had held out the possibility that Pakistan could win back that support if it changed its behavior.
Pakistan has received more than $33 billion in U.S. assistance since 2002, including more than $14 billion in CSF, a U.S. Defense Department program to reimburse allies that have incurred costs in supporting counter-insurgency operations.
The announcement comes just days before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Pakistan to meet the country's new prime minister, Imran Khan.
The US and others have long complained that Pakistan provides a safe haven to militant networks, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan - something that Islamabad denies.
The Haqqani network is a militant group that focuses most of its activities on neighboring Afghanistan, which has complained for years that Pakistan allows it to operate unimpeded from its soil across the border.
The group is linked to the Afghan Taliban - a hardline Islamic movement that poses a major threat to the Afghan government. Pakistani Taliban groups, while associated with the Afghan Taliban, focus on attacks within Pakistan.
Both the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban have launched attacks in Afghanistan that have killed US forces, and US officials have long argued that Pakistan, and specifically its ISI intelligence service, provide safe havens to them.
Our assessment is that Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have plummeted over the past year and it will soon seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or friendlier nations such as China. We feel that the intent of the US is to tighten their hold on Pakistan when they are most vulnerable, should Pakistan come to the IMF for a loan. The US has the largest share of the vote at the IMF.