US Suspends Security Assistance to Pakistan, Citing Taliban Actions Nearby

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In a tweet this week, President Trump said Pakistan's government has played the United States for "fools" and received nothing but "lies & deceit" in return for $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years.

"There is a Dollars 10 million reward out for information leading to his re-arrest, the person who is the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks who was let go in Pakistan", Nauert said. In other words, a clear cut narrative has been framed to validate punitive action against Pakistan.

The announcement ignited some small protests in Pakistan on Friday, including in Chaman, one of the two main crossings on the border with Afghanistan where several hundred people gathered to chant anti-US slogans.

The rare reaction follows recent statements from top US officials, including President Donald Trump, accusing Islamabad of "playing a double-game" and providing safe havens to militants fighting in war-torn Afghanistan.

Ayaz Sadiq, speaker of the lower house of parliament, told reporters after a closed-door meeting of the parliament's national security committee that they discussed the situation following Trump's tweet and that a follow-up meeting will decide on the "strategy". "We consider them to be destabilizing the region and also targeting USA personnel", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a regular news briefing. In an article published on the website of Gatestone Institute, an global policy council and think tank in New York, Islamabad-based journalist Kaswar Klasra has said that ISIS will continue to carry out attacks, itself or through other outfits such as Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Taliban, unless Pakistan takes them to task, reported ANI.

Civilian development and economic assistance to Pakistan is not affected.

Earlier on Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson placed Pakistan on a "Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom". The step does not carry any serious consequences.

In his first tweet of 2018, Trump said the U.S. It accused the US of scapegoating Pakistan for its own failure to bring peace to Afghanistan. USA aid agencies alone gave nearly $5 million to Pakistan in 2017, according to data from USAID.

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"The United States relies upon the Pakistan military to patrol Pakistan's western border and to help achieve the US goal of denying safe haven to the terrorists and extremists", said a 2009 report by the Department of Defense's inspector general.

"A balanced response is needed that would preserve the country's dignity while engaging with the U.S.", Sadiq said.

During an interaction with Pentagon reporters, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis did not respond to question if he was in favour of cutting off the aid to Pakistan.

Pakistan's influential military has not come up with a verified breakdown to convince the USA that it is spending the money wisely along the guidelines for how it can be used, which is essentially supposed to go only toward expenses that go above what the army would spend on normal operations.

Pakistan insists safe havens have been eradicated, but U.S. intelligence says it is still seeing militants operating freely. The U.S. originally increased funding to Pakistan in 2002 as part of its war on terror, and the Obama administration made Pakistan a priority as it planned to capture the terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. Pakistan has increasingly turned for economic support to northern neighbor China, which is investing tens of billions in transportation links and power generation as it extends its strategic footprint across Asia. They said they could make exceptions for money that went to critical US national security priorities.

Asked about the types of military equipment covered by the freeze, Nauert said: "I'm not going to be able to get into the specifics of that".

Already frosty relations between the US and Pakistan -the two allies in the so-called war against terrorism- have further nosedived since President Trump assumed office in January past year, mainly due to a clash of interests in Afghanistan.