by Will Racke
The Trump administration will withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan because of its failure to do enough to fight terrorism, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley confirmed Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters at U.N. headquarters, Haley said Pakistan has given safe haven to militants who attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan in an attempt to play both sides.
“The administration is withholding $255 million in assistance to Pakistan. There are clear reasons for this. Pakistan has played a double game for years,” Haley said, according to Reuters. “They work with us at times, and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan.”
“That game is not acceptable to this administration,” she added.
Haley’s remarks echoed President Donald Trump, who blasted Pakistan on Monday in his first tweet of 2018, accusing Islamabad of taking billions of dollars in U.S. aid and giving “nothing but lies and deceit” in return. Trump accused Pakistan of harboring terrorists the U.S. is trying to fight in Southwest Asia and suggested that future aid might be withheld.
Trump has publicly expressed frustration with Pakistan before, but he praised the country as recently as October, when Pakistan cooperated with U.S. authorities to free an American woman and her family from Taliban captivity. The operation was a sign that Parkistan “is honoring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region,” he said at the time.
Since then, however, the relationship between Washington and Islamabad has frayed badly. When Trump announced his national security strategy in December, he singled out Pakistan, saying “they have to help” the U.S. military in Afghanistan in return for “massive payments” in foreign assistance.
On Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi convened a meeting of his national security committee to respond to Trump’s criticism. In a statement, the committee expressed “deep disappointment” with Trump’s remarks and said they “struck with great insensitivity at the trust between two nations built over generations, and negated the decades of sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation.”
Haley said Tuesday the administration expects “far more” cooperation from Pakistan in fighting terror groups in the region, but she did not specify what actions Islamabad could take to receive the financial aid.
Officials in Afghanistan and India — Pakistan’s regional rivals — have praised the administration’s aggressive stance toward Islamabad. Jitendra Singh, India’s minister of state, said Monday that Trump’s stance “vindicated India’s stand as far as terror is concerned and as far as Pakistan’s role in perpetrating terrorism is concerned.”
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