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U.S. to withhold $255 million in aid to Pakistan

Reuters

U.S. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on Tuesday.

Reuters WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) — The United States accused Pakistan on Tuesday of playing a “double game” on fighting terrorism and warned Islamabad it would have to do more if it wanted to maintain U.S. aid.

“They can do more to stop terrorism and we want them to do that,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.

The White House said it would likely announce actions to pressure Pakistan within days, shortly after U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said at the United Nations that Washington would withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan.

“There are clear reasons for this. Pakistan has played a double game for years,” Haley told reporters. “They work with us at times, and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan.

“That game is not acceptable to this administration. We expect far more cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.”

The comments followed an angry tweet from U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday that the United States had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit” for “foolishly” giving Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the past 15 years.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he tweeted.

Pakistan civilian and military chiefs on Tuesday rejected “incomprehensible” U.S. comments and summoned American Ambassador David Hale to explain Trump’s tweet.

Pakistani U.N. Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said in a statement that her country’s fight against terrorism was not based on any consideration of aid but on national interests and principles.

“We have contributed and sacrificed the most in fighting international terrorism and carried out the largest counterterrorism operation anywhere in the world,” Lodhi said. “We can review our cooperation if it is not appreciated.”

Relations with Washington have been strained for years over Islamabad’s alleged support for Haqqani network militants, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban.

The United States also alleges that senior Afghan Taliban commanders live on Pakistani soil, and has signaled it will cut aid and take other steps if Islamabad does not stop helping or turning a blind eye to Haqqani militants crossing the border to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

In 2016, Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was killed by a U.S. drone strike inside Pakistan. In 2011, Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. troops in the garrison town of Abbottabad.

At the State Department on Tuesday, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pakistan knew what it needed to do, including taking action against the Haqqani network and other militants.

Pakistan needs to “earn, essentially, the money that we have provided in the past in foreign military assistance,” she said.Speech

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