WASHINGTON: Angered by Pakistan’s reluctance to go full throttle in the war against terror, the US Sunday disclosed that it has suspended US$ 800 million worth of military aid to it, reflecting months of bickering between the allies.
The White House Chief of Staff, Mr Tom Donilon while confirming suspension of the aid, described the relations with Pakistan as “difficult” and that it “must be made to work overtime.”
“The Pakistani relationship is difficult, but it must be made to work over time. Until we get through these difficulties, we’ll hold back some of the money that the American taxpayers have committed to give,” Mr Donilon said.
The suspended aid, which is about one-third of the US$ 2 billion in annual American security assistance to Pakistan, includes about US$ 300 million to reimburse Pakistan for some of the costs of deploying more than 1,00,000 soldiers along the Afghan border to combat terrorism. It also comprises millions of dollars in training assistance and military hardware, Pentagon officials said.
“Yep,” Mr Donilon told the ABC news channel in an interview when asked about The New York Times news about US suspension of aid to Pakistan. However, Mr Donilon said the Obama Administration’s policy towards Pakistan has not changed, even though it has become more complex and complicated. “It’s not changed. It’s not failed, pardon me,” he said.
“The truth of the matter is, our relationship with Pakistan is very complicated. Obviously, they’ve been an important ally in the fight on terrorism. They have been the victim of enormous amounts of terrorism. But right now they’ve taken some steps that have given us reason to pause on some of the aid which we’re giving to the military, and we’re trying to work through that,” he said.
Washington has been unhappy with Pakistan army’s request for a significant cutback of American military trainers and placing restrictions on the number of visas for US personnel. Islamabad’s contention that this is a temporary move has not cut ice with the Obama administration which feels that any reduction in the number of trainers and other personnel can come in the way of effective support of the US to Pakistan in the war on terror.