White House Suspends Security Assistance to Cash-Strapped Pakistan As It Fails to Act on Militant Safe Havens
The White House. (Photo: File)

Washington, November 20: The US has made it clear to Pakistani leaders that it expects them to constructively address the problem of militant safe havens in the country, the White House said after President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan faced off over the issue that has impacted bilateral ties. Trump on Sunday accused Pakistan of not doing "a damn thing" for the US. He cited Osama bin Laden and the Taliban resurgence in neighbouring Afghanistan as examples of how Pakistan would "take our money and do nothing for us".

Khan reacted angrily by saying that his country had suffered enough by fighting terrorism on behalf of the United States. "Now we will do what is best for our people and our interests," the cricketer-turned politician said on Twitter. The White House defended Trump's decision to suspend security assistance to Pakistan. "The (Trump) Administration has been clear to Pakistani leaders that it expects them to constructively address the problem of militant safe havens in Pakistan," an official from the National Security Council, the White House, told PTI. White House Reinstates CNN Reporter Jim Acosta's Press pass.

"Because Pakistan failed to address the problem, the Administration suspended security assistance," the official said, requesting anonymity.

"We remain hopeful that Pakistan will realise it is in its own interest to cooperate with the US strategy in Afghanistan," said the official responding Khan accusing President Trump of false assertion in his country's fight against terror. The US and others have long complained that Pakistan provides a safe haven to militant networks, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan, a charge that Islamabad denies.

Trump while announcing his new South Asia policy in August last year accused Pakistan of failing to do enough against terrorist groups inside the country. The relationship between the US and Pakistan has always been tenuous, but tensions have increased since Trump's election. In January this year, the US government announced it was cutting almost all security aid to the country. In September, the Trump administration cancelled USD 300 million in military aid to Islamabad for its failure to act against terror groups like the Haqqani Network and Taliban active on its soil. Trump in his latest tirade against Islamabad alleged that Pakistan knew that bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader, was living in a mansion on the outskirts of its garrison city of Abbottabad and all the aid being given to Pakistan, which is USD 1.3 billion per annum, was a waste.

Trump's latest criticism has further deteriorated the US-Pak relationship.

Senator Rand Paul, who has for the last several years sought to cut all assistance to Pakistan, supported Trump's decision. "I agree completely. That's why we should push hard on Pakistan to let persecuted Christian Asia Bibi find asylum in America," he said retweeting Trump's posts. Bibi was recently released from a Pakistani jail after her blasphemy conviction was overturned. "During my time in Congress, I have introduced legislation to directly go after Pakistan's foreign aid and turn up the pressure on them to release Asia Bibi and stop persecuting religious minorities," he said.