Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said Tuesday that Islamabad had suspended military and intelligence cooperation with the United States in the aftermath of Washington’s decision to cut security aid to the country.
“You see, the [ground and air] facilities that we have extended to them [U.S.] are still in operation. We have not suspended them. But there is also a wide field of intelligence cooperation and defense cooperation which we have suspended,” Khan said during a talk at the Institute for Strategic Studies in Islamabad, Daily Times reported.
Suspension of the strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Pakistan for more than a year was an even “more grave suspension” than the aid freeze, the minister noted. He mentioned that Washington had not offered any help with securing the porous border with Afghanistan which could address the issue of cross-border movement of the militants.
“It is convenient to blame Pakistan for cross-border terrorism, where the U.S. has not lifted a finger to help fence-up the border,” Khan said. “Now all veils are off…It is time for a courteous yet ruthlessly candid dialogue between Pakistan and the United States.”
During the talk, the minister also said that Pakistan signed an agreement on defense cooperation with Russia, and the two countries were holding joint military drills.
#Pakistan signed defence cooperation agreement with #Russia and joint exercises are also being conducted says Defence Minister, Khurram Dastgir Khan He was addressing a public talk titled 'Contours of Pakistan's security Environment' organized by Institute of Strategic Studies. pic.twitter.com/ebDrTtoERa
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) January 9, 2018
Contacted after the event, U.S. Embassy in Islamabad spokesman Richard Snelsire said, however, that the mission had not received “any formal communication” regarding the suspension.
Pentagon spokesperson Army Colonel Rob Manning said the aid would be frozen until Islamabad takes decisive action against the terrorist and militant groups.
Commenting on the potential closure of the supply route to Afghanistan due to the American aid decision, Manning said the Pentagon was not aware of any intent by Pakistan 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.