U.S. Withholds $300 Million From Pakistan Over Terrorism Fightby
Carter hasn’t certified enough done against Haqqani Network
Pakistan to continue its fight against terrorism: spokesman
The U.S. withheld $300 million of military aid to Pakistan after Defense Secretary Ash Carter found he couldn’t certify that enough action had been taken against the Haqqani Network insurgent group, the latest dispute straining relations between the two nations.
“The funds could not be released to the government of Pakistan at this time because the secretary has not yet certified that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network,” Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said in an e-mail on Thursday. “Pakistan’s efforts have reduced the ability of some militant groups to use North Waziristan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as a safe haven for terrorism. However, the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network continue to operate in other locations in Pakistan.”
The Haqqani Network has long used Pakistani soil near the Afghan border as a safe haven to attack U.S. troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Pakistan has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid while providing supply lines for its invasion of Afghanistan. But the relationship has also been marked by tension over whether Pakistan is doing enough to combat militant groups.
Pakistan has been authorized an additional $900 million for the 2016 fiscal year under the military support fund, though $350 million is also subject to the defense secretary certifying that the country “has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network,” Stump said. Congress required the certification as part of its annual defense spending bill.
The withholding of military aid is the latest in a series of spats between the two nations following America’s first drone strike in the southern Pakistani province of Balochistan, which killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in May. This added to tensions after key U.S. lawmakers, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, notified President Barack Obama’s administration that they would not approve using U.S. funding part of a sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan this year.
“Over the past decade, Pakistan has conducted a large number of military operations that have sequentially dismantled and destroyed terrorist infrastructure on its side of the international boarder with Afghanistan,” Nadeem Hotiana, a spokesman for Pakistan’s embassy in Washington, said in an e-mailed statement.
“Senior members of the Congress and representatives of the media have visited the areas cleared from terrorists’ control and observed for themselves the gains made in these operations as well as the development work under way, including projects undertaken in partnership with the U.S., for restoration of normal life in affected areas,” Hotiana said.