US Blocks $350 Million Aid To Pakistan, Blames It Of Inadequate Action Against Haqqani Network

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New Delhi: The US has blocked disbursement of $350 million coalition support fund to Pakistan as defence secretary James Mattis refused to certify that Islamabad has taken "sufficient actions" against the dreaded Haqqani network.

As a result of the notification by the defence secretary to Congress, the Department of Defence has reprogrammed remaining Coalition Support Funds, which is $350 million, to other accounts, defence department spokesman Adam Stump said.

The US decision comes as President Donald Trump's administration is exploring potentially hardening its approach toward Pakistan to crack down on militants launching strikes in neighboring Afghanistan.

"This decision does not prejudge the conclusions of the White House review of South Asia strategy, which is still ongoing," Stump said.

Relations between the two countries have been frayed over the past decade, with US officials frustrated by what they term Islamabad's unwillingness to act against Islamist groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. 

This is not the first time the Pentagon has decided not to make military reimbursements. Last year, the Pentagon withheld $300 million in reimbursements.

Pakistan-based Haqqani network is blamed for a number of high-profile attacks on US and Western interests in war-torn Afghanistan.

The terror group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.

The group is believed to be based in the unruly tribal regions of Pakistan, near the porous border with Afghanistan.

This is for the second consecutive year that the US defence secretary has refused to certify to Congress, as mandated under National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), that Pakistan has taken satisfactory action against the Haqqani network.

Mattis's predecessor Ashton Carter was the first US defence secretary to refuse that certification.

"The funds ($350 million) could not be released to the government of Pakistan at this time because the secretary could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network as per the requirement in the FY 2016 NDAA," Stump said.

"Pakistan has been reimbursed $550 million of the $900 million the country was authorised in FY16 CSF. With the secretary's decision, there is no additional FY16 CSF 
available to Pakistan. The secretary decided to request reprogramming of the funds to retain the ability to use those funds for other requirements," he said.

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