USA suspends security assistance to Pakistan, forces action on Islamists

Pakistani demonstrators burn the US flag at a protest in Quetta

WASHINGTON-The United States announced Thursday it was suspending security assistance to Pakistan for failing to take "decisive action" against Taliban militants targeting us personnel in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Responding to a question regarding the USA drone attacks in Pakistan, Ghafoor said the country would respond to such acts according to the aspiration of its people.

Administration officials said as much as $1.3 billion could be frozen, although Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, did not provide an estimate of the total aid funds affected.

Pakistan is a crucial gateway for USA military supplies destined for US and other troops fighting a 16-year-old war in neighboring, landlocked Afghanistan.

The Trump administration Monday chose to withhold more than a quarter-billion dollars in military aid to Pakistan over its protection of terrorists, according to Fox News. Opposition leader Imran Khan, a former cricket star tipped as the next prime minister, said Pakistan should "delink" from the United States and run down the American diplomatic and intelligence presence in what is a sensitive strategic area.

"We do not have any alliance" with the United States, Khawaja Muhammad Asif said in an interview Friday.

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MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: President Trump started the year by blasting Pakistan for its, quote, "lies and deceit".

The dramatic freeze in deliveries of military equipment and security funding comes after President Donald Trump lambasted Pakistan for its alleged support for militant safe havens, including in a furious new year tweet.

Ms Nauert specifically cited the country's lack of progress in dealing with the Haqqani Network, which is affiliated with the Taliban, and elements of the Taliban who are permitted to operate out of Pakistan despite United States pressure.

Pakistan's government sees partnering with the U.S.as having brought danger to the military and to Pakistani people.

Pressure is growing on Pakistan.

Officials confirmed that in September previous year State had already suspended $255 million in funding to help Pakistan buy high-tech weaponry from U.S. manufacturers.

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The Trump administration's strategy for ending the war in Afghanistan and defeating terror groups in the region faces its first major test in its confrontation with Pakistan.

In a press statement on Thursday, the State Department said it has also re-designated 10 countries as "countries of particular concern" under the country's International Religious Freedom Act for having engaged in or tolerated egregious violations of religious freedom. Beijing says Islamabad has made sacrifices and done a fabulous job in fighting terrorism.

"Pakistan has the ability to get this money back in the future, but they have to take decisive action", she said.

"The US has informed Pakistan of its decision to stop $255 million in aid", the Finance Ministry spokesperson confirmed, adding that the country was already prepared for the announcement.

"The question is will America create a situation which will harm Pakistan.We are ready for this but still want to engage the USA", he shared.

The foreign minister briefed the session, and said the USA administration neglected facts regarding Pakistan. While the decision to withhold financing may be significant depending on the scale of the actual move, the Obama administration withheld a heft $800 million in CSR payments in 2011-a particularly poor year for U.S. -Pakistan relations.

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