Mattis decides to withhold US cash from key Pakistani military fund
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has decided that the Pentagon will not give Pakistan the remainder of a key U.S. military reimbursement fund allotted to the country for 2016, a move that could signal a burgeoning hard-line approach by the Trump administration toward Islamabad.
The Pentagon announced the move to withhold $50 million in “coalition support funds” in a statement Friday, saying it had determined Pakistan had not taken “sufficient action” against the Haqqani network, the Taliban offshoot responsible for numerous attacks on civilians and military targets in neighboring Afghanistan. Reuters was first to report on the development.
“This decision does not reduce the significance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani military has undertaken over previous years,” said Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesman, in the statement.
The move comes less than a year after Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter decided to withhold $300 million from the same fund for the same reason: that Pakistan was not going after the Haqqani militants.
For fiscal 2016, Pakistan was allotted $900 million in coalition support funds, $550 million of which Islamabad has already received. The Pentagon said that $300 million, however, had already been withheld and redistributed, meaning that there are no more of the funds available to Pakistan from its 2016 allotment. The Coalition Support Fund is the main source of military assistance for Pakistan and is considered a reimbursement for Pakistan’s military support for U.S. operations in the region.
In the statement, Stump said the 2016 funds had to be “released or reprogrammed” before their expiration. He added that the decision to withhold the funds does not “prejudge” the White House and Pentagon’s upcoming strategy for Afghanistan and the surrounding region, now known as the “South Asia Strategy.”
“[The Coalition Support Fund] is just one component of the United States’ broad and enduring partnership with Pakistan,” Stump said.