$2B at risk in suspension of aid to Pakistan

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Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Wilson Center's South Asia program, said suspension of US security assistance to Pakistan would not torpedo relations but it was a significant step backward.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert on Thursday said the embargo would remain in place until Pakistan takes action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.

The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes after President Donald Trump in a New Year's Day tweet accused the country of giving nothing to the U.S. but "lies and deceit" and providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for United States dollars 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.

There seemed to be widespread support on Capitol Hill for the USA decision on cutting aid to Pakistan, with critical voices muted.

"I just want to be clear that it's been suspended".

Alliance forces rely on Pakistani roads to haul supplies to landlocked Afghanistan.

Trump had been keen to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan; therefore, he had only reluctantly agreed to increase their numbers under pressure from his generals.

If the overland routes are closed, the USA would need to haul supplies in by cargo plane, a much more costly method.

Last week, President Trump published several tweets criticizing United States aid policy to Pakistan, vowing to break with the policy of the past two administrations of pumping tens of billions of dollars in aid into the country for little tangible return.

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Relations between the two former allies in the war on terror plummeted last week after Trump targeted Pakistan in a tweet, saying that Pakistan had given the USA only "lies and deceit".

"Pakistan has taken a very hard line, like the U.S., and they're replying to every allegation" made by Trump, the observer noted. "This kind of running your foreign policy through the media can not achieve much, and is going to alienate more and more allies", he suggested.

The Pakistani officials their interlocutors that the country is still coping with the consequences of Britain's Afghan adventures. "If you listen to the Pakistani officials, they say that it won't mean much". Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif retorted that the us was "a friend who always betrays".

"That is the way it has been portrayed, but I think there will be some effect, [even if] not much". "The US and Pakistan relationship has been a troubled one", he had said in a statement.

USA officials said two main categories of aid are affected: foreign military financing (FMF), which funds purchases of United States military hardware, training and services, and coalition support funds (CSF), which reimburse Pakistan for counter-terrorism operations.

"The real question will be how this loss of support will be translated within Pakistani domestic security policy, and whether the loss of Pakistan as an ally is endemic of a much larger problem with American stature and influence on the global stage", Akins continued. Out of this, $400 million was eligible for Haqqani Network-related certification requirements that can not be waived by the administration. In Afghanistan, a host of other regional powers - including Russia, China, Iran and India - are all increasingly influential players in what has turned into a new "great game" for the 21st century.

But, the official said, it was "difficult but not impossible" to find other ways to get equipment in, and the USA was also anxious about its credibility if it continues to fund a country harboring America's enemies.

Maintaining unflinching pressure on Pakistan is very essential to further expose Islamabad.

Afghan border police stand guard near the Torkham crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan in Nangarhar province on May 12, 2016. An US inter-agency team had also gone to Pakistan in the fall of 2017 to continue these negotiations. In the meantime, the White House has to handle Pakistan, which is beset by both political dysfunction and economic turmoil, more carefully than it seems to be doing. "But right now, we're frustrated and we want to indicate to Pakistan our seriousness about the issue of dealing with safe havens", the official said. "That has to be done by the Afghan government, the Americans and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces", Yusufzai concluded.

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