United States freezes over $1 bn military aid to Pak over terror inaction

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"We consider them to be destabilizing the region and also targeting USA personnel", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a regular news briefing.

When President Donald Trump tweeted that all the USA had gotten for $33 billion in aid to Pakistan was "lies and deceit", he ventured into sensitive territory for a country that says it is doing all it can to fight terrorism and is being unfairly criticized for its efforts.

New York-The US is suspending most aid to Pakistan because of its failure to curb terrorism enforcing President Donald Trump's repeated warnings to Islamabad, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert announced on Thursday.

Relations between Pakistan and the US long have been strained, and tensions have only grown since the summer, when the Trump administration announced its policy on Afghanistan and South Asia. But it could end up backfiring by diminishing the cooperation between the USA and Pakistan to combat terror groups in the region.

According to local media, more than 3,450 people have been killed in 417 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004.

But US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups that attack Afghanistan from safe havens along the border between the two countries.

She added that Pakistan could review its cooperation with the United States if it is not appreciated.

Putting Pakistan on notice, the USA today suspended over United States dollars 1.15 billion in security aid and the delivery of military equipment to it for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups and dismantle their safe havens.

A glance at USA budget figures suggest the amounts frozen could exceed $1 billion. She told reporters that until Pakistan takes "decisive action" against those groups, security assistance was suspended.

Observers say Jiwani could be a pressure tactic by Pakistan as China is already developing Gwadar where earlier reports said Beijing plans to station its marines.

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"Pakistan army has made it clear that any [U.S] drone strike will be responded accordingly", Foreign Ministry spokesman, Dr Muhammad Faisal said during a weekly press briefing in capital Islamabad while responding to a question.

"The Trump administration decision has abundantly vindicated India's stand as far as terror is concerned and as far as the role of Pakistan is concerned in perpetrating terrorism", according to minister of state in Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh, NDTV reported on January 2, 2018.

United States security aid to Pakistan fell 62%-from $849 million in financial year 2012 to $322 million in financial year 2016.

On Thursday, the US State Department also tweeted that it has placed deeply conservative Muslim Pakistan on a special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom.

Already frosty relations between the USA and Pakistan -the two allies in the so-called war against terrorism- have further nosedived since President Trump assumed office in January previous year, mainly due to a clash of interests in Afghanistan.

The $255 million now being withheld is annual military aid that the United States still provides directly to Pakistan in return for fighting terrorism.

"It's north of $255 million", said one US official.

Pakistan, which serves as a key transport route for supplies to US forces in Afghanistan, denies harboring terrorists.

"We have got to see movement on this reduction of sanctuary and support for those insurgents and terrorists operating from Pakistan who are attacking our forces and our coalition diplomats and forces, as well as the Afghans, inside this country", Nicholson told reporters in November.

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