US aid threat dismissed by Pakistan
Pakistan’s prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, has declared himself mystified by US threats to cut off funding, saying that US financial assistance was “very, very insignificant” and that Pakistan was “on the forefront of the war on terror”.
In an interview with the Guardian, Abbasi said reports that the US was considering cuts of up to $2bn in security assistance were bewildering because the total aid Pakistan – civilian and military – actually received was a tiny fraction of that amount.
Abbasi said in his Islamabad office: “The aid in the last five years at least has been less than $10m a year. It is a very, very insignificant amount. So when I read in the paper that aid at the level of $250m or 500 or 900 has been cut, we at least are not aware of that aid.”
Donald Trump used his first tweet of 2018 to threaten to withhold aid to Pakistan because of what he called its “lies and deceit” over terrorism, claiming: “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help.” The president has said that the US had “foolishly” given Pakistan $33bn over the past 15 years.
According to the US Agency for International Development, the US gave $778m to Pakistan in assistance in 2016, of which 35% was military and the rest economic. The threatened move – designed to force Pakistan’s military and intelligence apparatus to cut support for the Taliban and other Islamist groups – would include both US military assistance and Afghanistan coalition funding to Islamabad. A senior official, quoted by the French Press Agency, said it was “approximately $2bn worth of equipment and coalition support funding that is in play”. The official added that “all options are on the table” when it comes to further moves, including stripping Pakistan of its status as a “major non-Nato ally”.
Abbasi called the claim Pakistan was harbouring terrorists a “fallacy”. He said almost 37,000 of the civilian population had been killed. “There are tens of thousands of people injured. We have suffered a loss of over $120bn in our economy.
“We just want the world to know that Pakistan is on the forefront in the war on this terror … Pakistan has won the war against terror on its own territory.”