WASHINGTON: The Trump administration on Wednesday told Congress it was conducting a review of assistance to Pakistan to ensure it was aligned with the level of cooperation it achieved in disrupting the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
“Before we move forward with future military financing for Pakistan, the US will take into account Pakistan’s efforts to address these central concerns,” acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asia said.
Alice Wells made the remarks during a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan, organised jointly by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittees for Middle East and North Africa and Asia and Pacific.
“We are conducting a review of our assistance, to ensure it is aligned with the level of cooperation we achieve in disrupting the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network,” she said.
For 2018, the administration has requested $344.6 million for Pakistan, including $241.1 million for civilian assistance and $103.5 million for security assistance. USD100 million FMF request is focused on enabling Pakistan to stabilise the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and battle terrorism.
“However, part of the president’s new strategy means we are evaluating the full range of tools that could encourage changes in Pakistan’s actions, including examining the nature and scope of our cooperation with Pakistan,” Wells said.
Pakistan was important to the success of the strategy, she said, adding President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had been clear the trajectory of its relationship with Pakistan would depend on its response to requests for support.
“During his visit, the secretary laid out specific expectations of how Pakistan can help create the conditions that will help bring the Taliban to the table,” she said.
Wells said Pakistan had been asked to take decisive action against all terrorists without discrimination, and not just selective actions against groups that carried out attacks in Pakistan.
“No partnership can survive a country’s tolerance of militants and terrorists who are targeting US service members and officials. Furthermore, Afghanistan reasonably asks the Taliban insurgents be forced to fight on Afghan soil, without recourse to safe haven or respite, and regeneration in neighboring states,” she said.
“We are prepared to work constructively with Pakistan to move against these terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e Taiba, and Jaish-i-Mohammed,” Wells said.