The US believes that suspending security assistance to Pakistan is important to put pressure on it to act against terror safe havens, the White House said as it defended President Donald Trump’s remarks that Islamabad had given America nothing but “lies and deceit”.
Early in January, the US froze nearly USD 2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan for not taking any decisive action against terrorists operating from its soil.
President Trump also accused Pakistan of providing safe havens to terrorist groups like the Taliban and the Haqqani Network and used his first tweet of the year to criticise Islamabad over the issue.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump had said in the tweet.
When asked if the White House stands by the comments the President made in the tweet, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded by saying “yes”.
“Our position is firm: that we believe that withdrawing that aid is important,” Sanders said.
Earlier in the day, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the Security Council should step up pressure on Pakistan to “change its behaviour”.
Briefing reporters after returning from a UN Security Council visit to Afghanistan, she said the Afghanistan government has asked the 15-member powerful wing of the world body to step up pressure on Pakistan.
“They did ask us for consensus to put further pressure on Pakistan to come to the table and change their behaviour,” the Indian-American diplomat said.
She said the Afghan government “continue to make 10 steps forward, and with Pakistan they feel like they continue to take steps backward.”
The Kabul visit of UN Security Council members came ahead of the Kabul Process meeting next month where the Afghan government is expected to present its strategy for reaching a settlement with the armed opposition.
Haley said the Afghan government is starting to see the Taliban concede, they are starting to see them move towards coming to the table.