The U.S. Department of Defense has withheld $900 million in security assistance for Pakistan, Pentagon spokesperson Army Colonel Rob Manning said on Monday.
“That amount has been suspended, not canceled or reprogrammed, as we continue to hope that Pakistan will take decisive action against the terrorist and militant groups that we seek,” Manning said in a briefing. “This suspension is not a permanent cutoff at this time.”
Security assistance would have been provided to Pakistan in Coalition Support Funds under the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act in October 2016 – October 2018.
“Of that $900 million, $400 million can only be released if the DoD certifies the Pakistan government has made significant progress against the Haqqani network. The Secretary has not yet made a decision on the certification required by the FY17 NDAA. We cannot speculate on a future FY18 NDAA,” Manning said.
The spokesperson underscored that to date, Pakistan received none of the FY 2017 funding. The country received the last $550 million disbursement in FY 2016 CSF in late February-early March 2017, he added.
Washington stands ready to work with Pakistan on combatting terrorist groups, and the United States will continue private talks with Pakistani authorities, Manning noted.
“The United States has conveyed to Pakistan specific and concrete steps that it could take toward these ends,” he said.“Our expectations are straightforward: Taliban and Haqqani leadership and attack planners should no longer be able to find safe haven or conduct operations from Pakistani soil.”
When asked about concerns that Pakistan could close the supply route to Afghanistan due to the American decision to suspend military aid, Manning said the Pentagon was not aware of any intent by Islamabad to do so.
“While the U.S. favors supply routes via Pakistan because of cost, we do have built-in flexibility and redundancy in our air, sea and ground supply lines into and out of Afghanistan to avoid overreliance on any single option,” he added.