WASHINGTON: The Pentagon has decided not to reimburse US $50 millions to Pakistan this year citing the country’s failure to take “sufficient action” against Haqqani network.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis informed the Congress that he was unable to certify that Islamabad “has taken sufficient action against the Afghan Taliban.
“The funds could not be released to the Government of Pakistan at this time because the secretary could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network,” Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
His certification is necessary for reimbursement of a part of Coalition Support Funds to Pakistan for its military’s operation against terrorist goups. Pakistan has already been reimbursed $550 million for operations against other terror groups during 2016.
Talking to The News, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism success is well-known fact.
“It may be noted that the funds in question are a reimbursement of the expenses incurred by Pakistan towards achieving our common objectives in the fight against terrorism and not an assistance,” the ambassador said.
The US announcement comes as Defense Secretary James Mattis and the White House debate a long-delayed strategy for the war in Afghanistan that could adopt a tougher line toward Pakistan’s role in the conflict. However the spokesperson said the decision is not related to the policy review.
“This decision does not prejudge the conclusions of the White House review of South Asia strategy, which is still ongoing,” Stump said.
“The Department recognizes the significant sacrifices the Pakistan military has made in the fight against terrorism, and appreciates Pakistan’s continued support for transit of materiel to coalition forces in Afghanistan,” he added.
This is the second time these funds have been withheld. Former US Defense Secretary Ash Carter also refused to certify Pakistan was adequately combating the Haqqani Network causing Congress to withhold $300 million in funding.
Defense officials and congressional aides have for months said that the new strategy won’t focus solely on Afghanistan, but take a more regional approach.
This includes stepping up pressure on Pakistan to dismantle Taliban and Haqqani sanctuaries in Pakistan.
The 2018 budget, which has yet to be finalized on Capitol Hill, seeks $800 million in funds for Pakistan.
No decision about that request has been made. Since 2002, Pakistan is the largest recipient of what is known as Coalition Support Funds reimbursements, designed to assist the government tackle extremists, receiving roughly $14 billion.
Earlier this week, in its annual report on terrorism the State Department said Pakistan “did not take substantial action” against the Afghan Taliban or Haqqani.
The report also listed Pakistan among countries with safe haven for terrorist organizations.
Pakistan rejected the charged made in the report. “It is a well-known fact that Pakistan’s counter terror efforts have resulted in a significant decline in terrorists attacks” Ambassador Chaudhry said.
He said the country is maintaining the momentum in fighting terrorism as is evident through Operation Rad-ul-Fassad and the recently launched operation Khyber-IV.
“Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism and has paid a staggering human and financial cost over the past decade” he said adding that the country has spearheaded the fight against terrorism and has achieved significant successes.