The United States is suspending security aid to Pakistan amid a dispute about Islamabad’s handling of terrorist networks in the country.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday said Washington would be halting $255 million per year in foreign military financing, but State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a press briefing on Thursday that the administration would be suspending all security assistance, the total of which had not yet been determined.
“Today we can confirm that we are suspending … security assistance only to Pakistan at this time until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. We consider them to be destabilizing the region and also targeting U.S. personnel,” Nauert told reporters.
Citing internal talking points, The New York Times reported Thursday that “the suspension is a freeze, and does not refelct intent to reprogram funds at this time.”
Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador earlier this week after President Donald Trump threatened to cut aid to the country, accusing the government of harboring terrorists. Other U.S. officials have accused Pakistan of providing safe haven to the al-Qaeda linked Haqqani network and other terrorist groups, allegations Islamabad denies.
According to the Times report, the aid includes Pentagon funds for counterterrorism operations. Nauert said exceptions may be made on a “case-by-case basis if determined to be critical to national security interests.”
Imran Khan, head of the party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, earlier criticized Trump’s comments, saying Pakistan had suffered 70,000 deaths and $100 billion in economic losses for supporting the U.S. during the 16-year-long war in Afghanistan. He proposed cutting access to the ground lines of communication, crucial routes for U.S. supplies to troops in Afghanistan.
U.S. aid to Pakistan averaged about $2.2 billion per year from 2002-2009 but had declined to $794 million by 2016, including about $316 million in security funding, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service.