Pentagon Not to Lift Freeze on Funds for Pakistan: Report

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Washington (December 6, 2017): The payments to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund are still frozen and the US Defence Secretary who was recently in Pakistan has not yet decided to issue the mandatory certification.

A spokesman for the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Michael Andrews, told Foreign Policy magazine that “Secretary Mattis has not yet made a decision on the certification required” by Congress to release the $400 million in counter-terrorism funds for Pakistan in fiscal 2017.

Another $650 million in payments that Pakistan would have received for the prior two fiscal years have already been “reprogrammed and are no longer available to Pakistan,” Andrews said.

Despite back to back visits of the top officials of Trump administration including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary Defence James Mattis, Islamabad and Washington remain at ‘odds over Pakistan’s track record on countering militants near the Afghan border, and Washington has no plans to lift a freeze on a key reimbursement fund for the country, the report quoted U.S. and Pakistani officials as saying.

Although in talks with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Mattis acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in countering militants but added that Islamabad ‘must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country’.

In July, Mattis suspended payments from the CSF, which the United States uses to reimburse countries for counter-terrorism operations. The Pentagon said it would not resume payments until the defense secretary could certify that Islamabad had taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network and other militants who cross into Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Pakistan.

The report further added: “The suspension may not be lifted for six months at the earliest, when fighting resumes in the summer months. U.S. officials say they will not be able to assess if Pakistan has made progress and fulfilled its promises to prevent the Haqqani militants from crossing into Afghanistan until then”.

While the United States insists that the funds are tied to Islamabad’s support for counter-terrorism operations, Pakistani officials continue to insist that payments should not be linked to specific conditions.

“The Coalition Support Fund is an obligation the United States has, and it is for the United States to fulfill that obligation,” Pakistan’ s envoy to US Aizaz Chaudhry said. “It is reimbursement of the expenses. It’s not an aid package.”

Chaudhry suggested that India’s involvement in Afghanistan is worthy of censure, not praise. “It is the use of Afghan soil to increase instability in Pakistan that hurts us.”

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Originally Posted on Abbtak TV

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