–Spokesman says decision to suspend security assistance was made in Jan 2018
WASHINGTON: A Pentagon spokesperson on Monday said the suspension of security assistance to Pakistan was announced in January 2018 and the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) was a part of it.
The spokesperson was addressing recent reports that have been circulating regarding the US plan to cancel $300 million aid to Pakistan.
“This is not a new decision or a new announcement, but an acknowledgement of a July request to reprogramme funds before they expire,” the Pentagon spokesperson said while clarifying that “the suspension of security assistance to Pakistan was announced in January 2018”.
“The Coalition Support Fund (CSF) is part of the security aid that was scrapped and its suspension remains in place,” he asserted, adding that the recent reports have distorted the details regarding the CSF as several things were taken out of context in the reports.
“Since January, we have consistently engaged with Pakistani military officials at the highest levels, based on both a shared commitment to defeat all terrorist groups that threaten regional stability and security, as well as on a shared vision of a peaceful future for Afghanistan,” the spokesperson said.
“We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network and we continue to call on the country to arrest, expel or bring the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table,” the spokesperson added.
The disclosure of cancellation of military aid comes ahead of an expected visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US General Joseph Dunford to Islamabad.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on Tuesday that combating militants would be a “primary part of the discussion.”
The so-called Coalition Support Funds (CSF) were part of a broader suspension in aid to Pakistan announced by US President Donald Trump at the start of the year when he accused Pakistan of rewarding past assistance with “nothing but lies & deceit.”
Experts on the Afghan conflict, America’s longest war, argue that alleged militant havens in Pakistan have allowed Taliban-linked insurgents in Afghanistan a place to plot deadly strikes and regroup after ground offensives.
In response to the reports, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday said the US administration did not cut off aid to Pakistan, instead, it announced to end the CSF that the country has already spent against terrorism.
He had maintained that it was not the aid that was cancelled, rather “it was all our money that we spent and they were merely reimbursing it.” The deal was done even before the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government assumed power, he had added.
Talking about how the Pakistani government will press the US officials, including Pompeo and top US military officer General Joseph Dunford who are scheduled to visit Islamabad on September 5, he had said, “We will sit and discuss this with him [Pompeo]. We will try to improve bilateral ties between the two countries. We will listen to him and present our point of view to him as well.”