The 300 million dollars in funds for Pakistan that the U.S. canceled was not aid, but part of a Coalition Support Fund for counter-terrorism operations, Pakistani Foreign Minister Mahmood Qureshi said.
On Sunday, Washington confirmed that it has cancelled the 300 million dollars in funding to Islamabad over the lack of results in dealing with terrorist networks and suggested it would redistribute the money toward what the Pentagon said were more urgent priorities.
The announcement came ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pakistan.
The Pakistani foreign minister expressed hope for friendly talks with Pompeo, which would help strengthen the ties between the two countries, according to the Geo News outlet.
U.S. officials have long been urging Pakistan to do more to fight terrorist groups, especially in Afghanistan.
In January, the State Department said the United States was freezing most security aid to Pakistan.
NAN reports that the Coalition Support Fund was suspended in January after Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. had received nothing but “lies and deceit” in return for 33 billion of financial support to Pakistan since 2002.
On Saturday, a spokesperson for the Pentagon said that “due to a lack of decisive actions in support of the South Asia strategy, the remaining 300 million dollars was reprogrammed”, withdrawing for good a previous offer to unfreeze the funds if Pakistan took decisive action against militant groups.
The Trump administration says Islamabad offers sanctuary to Taliban fighters waging a 17-year war in Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan denies.
The Pentagon spokesman Lt. Koné Faulkner said the funds would be reassigned to other “urgent priorities”, following approval by Congress.
Imran Khan’s new government offered no immediate response but the prime minister has called for “more balanced” relations with the U.S
Khan is seeking to shift Pakistan’s foreign policy away from a “clientalistic” relationship with the U.S., whose drone attacks and war on terror he blames for fostering extremism within Pakistan, towards allies closer in the region.
Analysts noted the timing of the Pentagon’s announcement may reflect irritation within Washington at Khan’s decision to welcome the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, as his first diplomatic guest and the former cricketer’s subsequent statements of support for the nuclear deal that Trump recently reneged upon.