–US Embassy’s spokesman says no country has more to gain from a peaceful Afghanistan than Pakistan
LAHORE: The $150 million in the United States (US) Department of Defence (DOD) funding authorised for the financial year 2019 is dedicated to Pakistan’s border security operations, a US embassy spokesperson said on Saturday.
“The $150 million in DOD funding is meant for Pakistan’s border security operations,” the spokesman told Pakistan Today.
Earlier on Thursday, the US Congress had approved a $716.3 billion Defence Authorisation Bill (DAB) but only $150 million was meant for Islamabad.
This marks a sharp decline in security aid as it had originally varied from $750 million to $1 billion per year.
Financial assistance conditions pertaining to the Haqqani Network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were also relaxed by the US.
The spokesperson also said, “The funding is a clear sign of our commitment to improved security for both Pakistan and Afghanistan and we hope that Pakistan takes the necessary steps to enable the disbursement of this assistance.”
“We consistently engage with both civilian and military Pakistani officials at the highest levels in an effort to place our relationship with Pakistan on more solid and sustainable footing to advance our mutual interests,” the US embassy spokesperson explained.
“Pakistan and the US have a shared commitment to defeat all terrorist groups that threaten regional stability and to work together toward a peaceful future for Afghanistan,” the spokesperson added.
Responding to a question regarding the easing of conditions associated with LeT and Hafiz Saeed is a move to get Pakistan to aid in the Afghan peace process, the spokesperson said, “No as no country has more to gain from a peaceful Afghanistan than Pakistan.”
“We continue to call on Pakistan to arrest, expel, or bring the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table,” the spokesperson explained.
On a question regarding whether the US is moving closer to accepting that Saeed is not a terrorist, the spokesperson asserted, “The Administration’s position is unchanged and we continue to press Pakistan to target all terrorist groups without discrimination, including the Taliban, Haqqani Network and LeT.”
“We stand ready to work with Pakistan to combat terrorist groups without distinction,” the spokesperson further said.
This comes at a time when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on July 31 warned the International Monetary Fund (IMF) against aiding Pakistan.
On the other hand, Pakistan Army has cleared the former Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) from terrorists after conducting several successful military operations.