U.S. President Donald J. Trump opened 2018 with a blistering attack on Pakistan which he had long suspected to be dragging its feet on the war against terrorism. The President who uses social media to balance out what he perceives is fake news blasted Pakistan in his first New Year’s Day series of tweets:
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 Billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan with little help. No more!”
The President’s sentiments toward Pakistan manifested in the government’s decision to withhold $255 Million in military aid. According to a spokesman for the National Security Council, the White House wants to further review Pakistan’s “level of cooperation” in fighting terrorism.
Pakistan has been an uncertain ally at best for the United States. The alliance has been shaky; tumultuous and at times, has led the U.S. to question Pakistan’s loyalty and true intentions in the fight versus terrorism.
It is supposed to be an ally in the fight against terrorism, yet Pakistan was where Osama Bin Laden hid out for years before being killed by U.S. Navy Seals in May 2, 2011.
The NSC spokesman believes Pakistan continues to play a key role versus terrorism and that President Trump has made it clear he wants the country to take stronger action versus terrorism and extremism.
The White House’s assessment of the alliance will determine the direction of the relationship with Pakistan including future security assistance.
The United States has withheld a total of $650 Million in Coalition Support Fund reimbursements for Pakistan since 2015. The fund will only be released if the U.S. military can certify with confidence that Pakistan is making creditable progress against the Haqqani network which has been linked with the Taliban.
The Pentagon has also withheld subject to further review and certification, the $400 Million approved by Congress for fiscal year 2017. In addition, the $350 Million which was set aside for the fiscal 2018 defense policy bill will also be withheld until it has been certified by the Pentagon.
During his speech to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Vice President Mike Pence commended the decision of President Trump to tighten his grip on funding support for Pakistan:
“For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organizations but those days are over. As the President said, so I say now, Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with the United States and Pakistan has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”