Donald Trump mounts pressure: Task force to check on Pakistan terror-funding tap

Donald Trump said the United States had “foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit.”

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Updated: January 3, 2018 8:28 am
Pakistan, US Pakistan, Donald Trump Pakistan, Trump pakistan tweet, World news, Pakistan news, Indian express opinion US President Donald Trump. (AP Photo)

Frustrated by Islamabad’s continued refusal to sever ties with jihadist networks, US President Donald Trump’s administration has begun to evolve a full range of measures to ratchet up pressure on Pakistan that range from economic pressure using international financial institutions to stepped-up lethal action against key terrorist leaders, Washington-based diplomatic sources have told The Indian Express.

In a tweet at 4 am January 1, President Trump said the United States had “foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit” — the latest in a series of angry comments by top leaders, including Vice-President Mike Pence. Even though the statements have not been followed by action, sources said these were intended to signal to Pakistan that anger in the US government had reached tipping point.

The decision to push Pakistan hard, led by National Security Advisor H R McMaster and the National Security Council’s senior South Asia director Lisa Curtis, marks a break from caution in earlier administrations which believed too much pressure posed unacceptable risks of destabilising a nuclear-weapons power.

Following President Trump’s tweet, the White House said Tuesday that the United States had no plans to release $255 million in military aid promised for the 2016 financial year. However, the funds had already been placed in escrow in August after the United States said it was dissatisfied by the action Islamabad had taken on terrorism.

Also Read | US foolishly gave aid to Pakistan for 15 years, they gave us only lies, deceit: Trump

The cash itself is unlikely to impose pain on Pakistan, amounting to a little over 10 per cent of $1.87 billion the country’s budget commits to new acquisitions and modernisation of its armed forces. “It’s not the money that’s important,” one diplomat said, “it’s the message. The question is: is Pakistan going to listen, or put the United States to test?”

Later this month, an inspection team from the Financial Action Task Force, a conglomeration of the world’s leading economies, which frames rules for the international banking system, is set to visit Pakistan to study its action to stop funding of jihadist groups, the first step in the United States’ pressure-building strategy.

The team’s assessment will inform FATF discussions in February when the State Bank of Pakistan, the country’s central bank, will present measures it has taken to contain asset-building by terrorist organisations proscribed by the United Nations, including the Jama’at-ud-Dawa, Jaish-e-Muhammad and the Afghan Taliban.

Failure to persuade the FATF that adequate action has been taken could lead to Pakistan being placed under watch by the organisation, a measure that would lead the international banking system to place transactions involving the country under intense scrutiny.

In an effort to preempt such action, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan issued orders Monday, warning companies against “donating cash to the entities and individuals listed under the United Nations Security Council sanctions committee’s consolidated list”.

Earlier, on December 19, Pakistan’s Finance Ministry had asked provincial governments to submit plans for taking over assets belonging to the Jama’at-ud-Dawa, including educational and medical institutions run by its charitable wing, the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who attended one meeting relating to implementation of the December 19 instructions, said he had ordered authorities to “choke the fundraising of all proscribed outfits in Pakistan”.

However, websites seeking funding for the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation’s activities in and outside Pakistan remained online Tuesday. “We don’t have any intimation about any crackdown so far,” FIF spokesperson Salman Shahid told media. “No one has asked us about our work or assets,” he said.

Further pressure is likely to mount on Pakistan through the International Monetary Fund. Faced with depleted foreign exchange reserves, the country was pressured by the US-dominated IMF last month to allow its currency to depreciate against the US dollar.

“I believe the Trump administration is pretty clear about what it wants to do,” said Husain Haqqani, Islamabad’s former ambassador to the United States said. “These measures will reveal themselves incrementally in coming months.”

President Trump has already removed restraints on covert CIA drone strikes inside Pakistan’s Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and, sources said, he has expressed willingness to consider targeting key leaders from Afghanistan-focused jihadist groups elsewhere too.

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  1. Suhas Gha
    Jan 3, 2018 at 1:25 pm
    Like north kores, NA-PAK needs to be isolated till such time it hands over all terrorists are handed over to UN. But r we sure that AMERICA wants to isolate NA-PAK, not even NORTH KOREA? LIKE IRAN QUANTRA DEAL, AMERICA will be secretly deal with these two nations. Is world believing TRUMP that he will really stop funding america? That is the route of earning money and keeping its arms factories running. They distroyed 3 countries. IRAQ! LIBIYA, SUDAN, AFGANASTIN, SIRIYA and IRAQ. And is on the forefront in rehabitilisation of these countries and offcourse at price and heavy price. Without doing this, their arms industry will be dead. Their outdated warfare and machinery will need to be scrapped.
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    1. Birendra Kashyap
      Jan 3, 2018 at 1:11 pm
      Mr trump all islamic country understand only one language kick in the butt,china russia europe,india all fighing against this islamic fasicsm and your friend suadia arabia is the leader of this dirty pack
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      1. Indian Abroad
        Jan 3, 2018 at 10:54 am
        Seeing is believing. I do not believe what Trump says, I believe what he does. Also there is nothing in this for India to celebrate. If you pay attention to what he said, the US continues to discriminate between good and bad terrorists. India has to fight its own war against terrorism. Show courage and take Pakistan heads on.
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        1. Mohammad Dar
          Jan 3, 2018 at 12:22 pm
          Very funny or a hindu crooked at ude, there is no hinduism terrorism but, the hind crime of hinduism terrorism, practiced as a faith to fool humanity, call it hind crime of hinduism racism, or hinduism terrorism, they both arethe one and the same, for the one with a human brain, not for an owl of a hindu darkened cave in human form.
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        2. mtv
          Jan 3, 2018 at 9:56 am
          For far too long, these devious Pakis have duped the world esp. US leaders as Trump rightly said. At least once they have to be told as told by Trump yesterday. But because of their evil godfather China is there to protect them, I wonder anything great will come out of it.
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          1. Mohammad Dar
            Jan 3, 2018 at 12:24 pm
            Not to the disappointment of the hindu crooked dogs of hinduism illegality by faith, of swamp od hinduism racism by faith, called Bahart.
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          2. Narendra M. Apte
            Jan 3, 2018 at 8:19 am
            1. Despite reports of a possible crackdown on terror groups like JuD, LeT, JeM, and Pakistani Taliban, I believe that activities of the above terror groups will never be contained by the Pakistani army. 2. Entire democratic world knows that these groups operate freely from Pakistan and good many of them do so because Pakistan’s army its intelligence wing, ISI, provide complete immunity to such terror groups. These terror outfits are freely used to create disturbances in India and elsewhere. 3. When in January, 2017 Mr. Donald Trump took over as President of United States of America, it was expected that he would act tough against Pakistan. But this did not happen. That was perhaps because there is a strong pro-Pakistan lobby in the US administration. 3. Latest tweet of President Trump in 2018 indicates that he is really serious about reviewing aid to Pakistan. Whether the USA administration does actually what the President wishes or not would be clear in a couple of months.
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