The United States said Tuesday that it was withholding $255 million in aid to Pakistan as punishment for the country’s support for terrorism.
Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., announced the deprivation at a media avail where she stressed that the action was not related to Pakistan’s vote for a resolution condemning the United States’ decision to relocate its embassy and declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
‘It is entirely connected to Pakistan’s harboring of terrorists,’ she said from the United Nations. ‘However, as I said in December, we won’t forget the Jerusalem vote.’
President Trump had previewed the aid slash in a tweet on Monday that said the U.S. had ‘foolishly’ given Pakistan $33 billion and received ‘lies & deceit’ in return.
Pakistan then summoned the U.S. ambassador to the country, David Hale, for a meeting, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif claimed Trump’s outburst was non-consequential.
‘He has tweeted against us (Pakistan) and Iran for his domestic consumption,’ Asif told Geo TV on Monday. ‘He is, again and again, displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in the dead-end street in Afghanistan.’
Trump’s administration had been threatening to keep the $255 million over Pakistan’s alleged ties to the Haqqani network, known associates of the Afghan Taliban, since August.
It informed Congress then that it would freeze the payment until Pakistan cracked down more heavily on terrorism.
‘We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately,’ Trump said in an August speech announcing a new strategy to combat terror in Afghanistan.
Asif, the Pakistani foreign minister, said Monday that his country does not need the money, Reuters reported. A U.S. National Security Council official meanwhile confirmed that the U.S. does not plan to distribute the funds ‘at this time.’
Trump had said in an early morning tweet: ‘The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!’
Haley confirmed Tuesday at a televised question and answer session that assistance to Pakistan would continue to be withheld until Islamabad stops backing terrorists.
‘Pakistan has played a double game for years. 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,’ she said. ‘We expect far more cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.’
Haley said Trump is ‘willing to go to great lengths to stop all funding from Pakistan as they continue to harbor and support terrorism’ in an ominous comment that suggested the U.S. was preparing to put more heat on Islamabad.
The White House said later that Pakistan is not ‘fulfilling its obligations’ and Trump ‘is simply following through on a commitment that he made’ to withhold the subsidies in August.
‘This is a President that does what he says he’s going to do,’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. ‘We know that Pakistan can do more to fight terrorism, and we want them to step up and do that.’
Haley stressed at her press avail that the hold on Pakistan’s aid was not payback for its vote last month against the U.S. at the U.N.
‘To that end, tomorrow night we are having a reception for the countries who chose not to oppose the U.S. position. This is a great sign of U.S. friendship and I look forward to tomorrow evening,’ she said. ‘The United States is asked to do a huge amount around the world. And we are happy to do that, but we expect to be treated respectfully in return.’
Only eight countries stood with the U.S. in Dec. 21 vote, including Israel. Another 35 nations abstained.
Haley had warned the U.S. would be ‘taking names’ and said that Trump had asked her to report back to defectors.
Trump then said: ‘For all of these nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the security council, or they vote against us, potentially, at the assembly, they take hundreds of millions of dollars, and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us.
‘Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.’
Neither Haley nor the White House has said what the U.S. will do to the countries the 128 countries that lined up to condemn Washington and render its declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital ‘null and void.’
Sanders suggested Tuesday, however, that action is imminent.
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