The US on Friday made it clear that the Trump administration will not give Pakistan an amount of $350 million as coalition support fund following US Defence Secretary James Mattis’ report that Islamabad has failed to take ‘sufficient actions’ against the terrorist group Haqqani network. The decision taken on Friday comes prior to the US review of its policy on South Asian countries Pakistan and Afghanistan.
US Defence Department Spokesman Adam Stump said that the Department of Defence has redirected the remaining Coalition Support Funds, which amounts to $350 million, to other accounts. “Secretary Mattis has informed congressional defence committees that he was not able to certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient actions against the Haqqani Network to permit full reimbursement of Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Coalition Support Funds (CSF),” PTI quoted Stump as saying.
Earlier this year, the Department of Defence had given $550 million of $900 million coalition support funds to Pakistan on being authorised by the US Congress in its National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA). The US administration has refused to confirm that Pakistan is taking the action mandated by the NDAA against Haqqani terror network for two successive years in a row now.
Prior to Mattis, former Defence Secretary Ashton Carter had declined to certify that Pakistan was taking sufficient action against the terror group. “The funds (USD 350 million) could not be released to the Government of Pakistan at this time because the secretary could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network as per the requirement in the FY 2016 NDAA,” Stump said.
“Pakistan has been reimbursed USD 550 million of the USD 900 million the country was authorised in FY16 CSF. With the Secretary’s decision, there is no additional FY16 CSF available to Pakistan. The Secretary decided to request reprogramming of the funds to retain the ability to use those funds for other requirements,” PTI quoted Stump as saying.
The Haqqani network, based in Pakistan, is believed to be responsible for several deadly attacks on US and its interests in Afghanistan. The terrorist organisation is also responsible for strikes on Indian interests in Afghanistan which also includes the high-profile attack in 2008 on the Indian mission in Kabul that claimed 58 lives. The roots of the group are believed to be in the tribal regions of Pakistan near its border with Afghanistan.
Pakistan is allotted funds under Coalition Support Fund (CSF) authority which reimburses key cooperating nations which provide military, logistical and other support to combat operations undertaken by US. Pakistan, having received over $14 billion since 2002, is the largest beneficiary of the CSF reimbursements. $900 million was sanctioned to Pakistan in FY17 CSF, as part of the regular process of Defence Department budget allocation. “There is a similar certification requirement for Pakistan pertaining to USD 400 million of FY17 CSF. Pakistan still has time to take action against the Haqqani Network in order to influence the Secretary’s certification decision in FY17,” Defence Department Spokesman Stump said.
Stump expressed US’ acknowledgement of the sacrifices of the Pakistan military in its combat operations saying, “This decision does not prejudge the conclusions of the White House review of South Asia strategy, which is still ongoing. We continue to be encouraged by Pakistan’s operations in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the FATA. Pakistan’s efforts have reduced the ability of some militant groups to use North Waziristan and the FATA as a safe haven for terrorism,” he said. However, he went on to say that terror groups Taliban and the Haqqani Network continue to function in other parts of Pakistan.
Two days ago, the US State Department had listed Pakistan as one of the countries providing safe havens to terrorists. “In our discussions with Pakistani officials, we continue to stress that it is in the interest of Pakistan to eliminate all safe havens and reduce the operational capacity of all militant organisations that pose a threat to the US and Pakistani interests as well as regional stability,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)