Amid suspension of military aid to Pakistan, US, India discuss bilateral issues

Kenneth Juster

There are elements sympathetic to Pakistan in the State Department - people who have always kept up the pretence that Pakistan was an ally of the U.S. in its "global war on terrorism" knowing full well that it was nothing but a figment of imagination.

In 2015, $300 million of the Pentagon's Coalition Support Funds were made conditional on Pakistan acting against the Haqqani network terrorist group in Afghanistan - Pakistan's main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, has always been accused of patronizing and protecting the group.

Secondly, the United States has been a staunch ally of Pakistan despite the latter's systematic terror attacks on India including 26/11 in which even USA citizens were killed.

However, as Trump indicated when he unveiled his South Asia strategy in August, putting pressure on Pakistan was his pound of flesh in return for agreeing to a troop increase in Afghanistan. "But right now, we're frustrated and we want to indicate to Pakistan our seriousness about the issue of dealing with safe havens", the official said.

Pakistan is largely shrugging off the proposed USA aid cuts but frets that Washington could take more drastic measures to deter what it sees as Pakistan's support for the Taliban. In 2012, when there were far more North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan, that totaled about $1 million per day.

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The UNHCR is undertaking a repatriation programme for 1.4 million Afghans, majority living in Pakistan since their country was invaded by Soviet Russia in 1979.

The Global Times article signalled that Pakistan would be justified in defining a new geopolitical calculus that covers China and Russian Federation.

But US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups that attack Afghanistan from safe havens along the border between the two countries.

It, however, needs to be appreciated that Pakistan has fought the war against terrorism largely from its own resources which has cost over $120 billion in 15 years.

The official added Trump has suspended the aid after no promising results were reported to him despite four months of high-level engagement with Pakistan.

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With that in mind, Yusufzai said that the aid cuts do not mean a complete USA break with the South Asian country. "At this stage all Fiscal Year 17 CSF have been suspended, so that's the entire amount of Dollars 900 million", Andrews said. Holding back the dollars every few years is just a nip and tuck, when what's really needed is a surgical uprooting of terrorist support systems inside Pakistan. There were also "detailed" discussions during high level visits by defence secretary Jim Mattis and secretary of state Rex Tillerson's and in their meetings with Pakistani foreign minister Khwaja Asif to Washington.

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.

"We don't need any type of aid".

As recently as October, Trump credited U.S. "Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goal posts are counterproductive in addressing common threats". United States troops in Afghanistan are being supplied with food and military equipment by the routes from Pakistan to Afghanistan. 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. Another issue revolves around whether a political solution to the conflict exists, with Islamabad preferring that option while the United States is looking for a military solution.

The move, which USA officials had hinted at for months, was greeted optimistically in Afghanistan. At a background briefing in Washington on January 4, state department officials also stressed that the aid cut was reversible "if they undertake to take the measures that we've asked of them".

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