US threatens Pak, says ‘all options on table’

The US is keeping “all options” on the table apart from suspending about USD 2 billion in security aid to Pakistan to put pressure on it to take decisive action against the Taliban and the Haqqani network and eliminate their safe havens, the White House warned today.

The US yesterday suspended about USD 2 billion in security aid to Pakistan over “its failure to crack down on militants.” 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 US but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven to terrorists” in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.

“The US does have a range of tools that we’re looking at beyond just the security assistance issue to deal with Pakistan and to try to convince it to crack down on the Taliban and Haqqani network,” a senior Trump administration official told reporters.

“Certainly no one should doubt the US resolve to address this threat and all options I would say will be on the table,” said the official.

The suspended amount include USD 255 million in the Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by Congress.

It also includes USD 900 million in the Coalition Support Funds (CSF) money to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017. In addition, the Department of Defence has suspended other unspent money from previous fiscal years.

While some policy makers have been asking the White House to revoke the non-NATO ally status of Pakistan and put pressure on the country through multilateral institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, Pentagon generals have indicated unilateral actions.

However, the official refrained from divulging any of the options that the administration is considering against Pakistan.

“I’m not able to comment on specific steps at this time. But nobody should doubt our resolve in trying to address these threats. We’re looking at all options. We hope that we can cooperate with Pakistan. But we do have options that we’re considering,” the official said.

The US wants action against the existing safe havens of the Taliban and the Haqqani network and demolish its ability to carry out strikes across the border in Afghanistan, the official said and expressed hope that Pakistan would take actions that the US was seeking.

“….That will allow the relationship to return to a more positive trajectory,” the official said.

In August, while unveiling his new South Asia strategy, Trump had accused Pakistan of giving “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror,” and said the time had come “for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace”.

Trump’s new policy, the official said, is driven by his desire to have a successful strategy in Afghanistan.

“We firmly believes that for the future of the region, Pakistan needs to crack down on these terrorist elements. Unless they take a comprehensive approach to the terrorism problem it is going to threaten US interests and everybody’s interests including Pakistan’s,” the official said.

He said the announcement of the suspension of the security assistance to Pakistan clearly reflected the US’ frustration over Pakistan’s failure to crack down on all terrorists who find shelter on its territory. PTI

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