U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly backing its assertion that Pakistan is harboring jihadists by depriving Islamabad of $255 million in military aid funded by American taxpayers, according to a report published Tuesday.
An unnamed White National Security Council official reportedly told Fox News:
The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in [Fiscal Year] 2016 Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan at this time.
The president has made clear that the United States expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil, and that Pakistan’s actions in support of the South Asia Strategy will ultimately determine the trajectory of our relationship, including future security assistance.
The official further explained that the Trump administration would continue to “review Pakistan’s level of cooperation.”
Last week, the New York Times (NYT)revealed that the Trump administration has been “strongly considering” withholding $255 million in aid it had delayed sending to Pakistan in protest of Islamabad’s refusal to confront terrorists operating on its soil.
In August, the Trump administration signaled its willingness to withhold the $255 million in military aid from Pakistan, arguing that Islamabad has failed to take adequate action against the Taliban and its ally the Haqqani Network, considered to be the greatest threat facing U.S. troops and their allies in Afghanistan.
Pakistan continues to willingly serve as a sanctuary for jihadists groups killing and maiming American troops and their partners in neighboring Afghanistan, the Pentagon determined last month, prompting Trump to blast once again Islamabad’s reluctance to cut ties with terrorists.
On Monday, President Trump wrote on Twitter, “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
Islamabad has repeatedly denied that it protects terrorist groups. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan have long accused one another of harboring terrorists.
In response to President Trump’s latest condemnation of Islamabad, Khawaja M. Asif, the foreign minister of Pakistan, pledged to “let the world” know the “difference between facts and fiction.”
The minister reportedly tweeted, “We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly inshallah…Will let the world know the truth… difference between facts & fiction.”
We will respond to President Trump's tweet shortly inshallah…Will let the world know the truth..difference between facts & fiction..
— Khawaja M. Asif (@KhawajaMAsif) January 1, 2018
Since he unveiled his South Asia strategy—primarily focused on Afghanistan—Trump has chastised Pakistan for supporting terrorists in the region, urging the Muslim-majority country to change its ways.
“We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory,” declared Trump on December 18 when he announced his National Security Strategy. “And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.”
Nevertheless, the Pentagon determined last month that Pakistan continues to serve as a haven for jihadists.
The Pakistan border region also houses the majority of jihadi strongholds in Afghanistan.
According to the Pentagon, the Afghanistan-Pakistan area is home to “the highest regional concentration of terrorist groups in the world.”
For years, the Pentagon, echoing Afghanistan and India, has acknowledged that Pakistan harbors terrorists.