WASHINGTON: United States (US) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Alice Wells said that the US is keen to work with Pakistan to achieve stability and peace in South Asia.
Wells was addressing a ceremony regarding Independence Day in Washington where she also acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices in the ongoing war against terrorism.
Several dignitaries including Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Ali Jahangir Siddiqui were also in attendance.
Earlier on August 14, United States Secretary Michael Pompeo had said that the US hopes to further strengthen ties with Pakistan in the coming years and work with the government to advance shared goals of security, stability and prosperity in South Asia, even though Washington has stepped up pressure on Islamabad by cutting down vital military assistance to the country.
Wishing the people on the 72nd Independence Day, Pompeo, in a statement, had said, “For more than seven decades, the relationship between the US and Pakistan has rested on the strong foundation of close ties between our people.”
“In the years ahead, we hope to further strengthen these bonds, as we continue to look for opportunities to work with the people and Government of Pakistan to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia,” he had further stated.
Earlier, prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan had said that “Pakistan and the US should strengthen their relations based on trust, amidst tensions in bilateral ties over the former’s support for terror groups”.
Moreover, the US Congress had also passed a bill to slash Pakistan’s defence aid to USD 150 million, significantly below the historic level of more than USD one billion per year.
The National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) for 2019 had ramped up the military spending and avoided policy changes that would have antagonised US President Donald Trump.
In the latest NDAA, the security aid to Islamabad — that had once started from almost $750 million per year to $1 billion — was marked down to a mere $150 million.
However, it also relaxed certain conditions that were attached with the financial assistance, including action against the Haqqani Network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
This crucial reduction translates into the fact that the Pentagon might not have any tools to pressurise Pakistan into taking action against the banned militant outfits.
The US had earlier used these funds to ask Islamabad to do more with regard to the counterterrorism operations, especially against the Haqqani Network.