Published: Mon, September 03, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Mutual interests to drive Pak-US ties forward: Foreign minister

Mutual interests to drive Pak-US ties forward: Foreign minister

The Pentagon has made a final decision to cancel $300 million in military aid to Pakistan due to that country's support for terrorists.

Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy, the remaining Dollars 300 million was reprogrammed by the Department of Defense (DoD) in July 2018 time frame for other urgent priorities before the funds expire on September 30, he said.

He said the other $500 million in Coalition Support Funds was stripped by Congress from Pakistan earlier this year, to bring the total withheld to $800 million.

"We will hear him and let him know the aspiration of the nation", Qureshi said.

Qureshi argued that the US was not justified in cutting the $300 million because it was meant to reimburse Pakistan's military for money spent fighting the Taliban and other militants threatening USA troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has received more than $33 billion in USA assistance in the past 16 years, including more than $14 billion in Coalition Support Funds. He said, Pentagon will have a congressional response before September 30, to allow it to implement the reprogramming actions.

Islamabad has repeatedly denied the accusations, insisting it has eradicated safe havens and accusing the United States of ignoring the thousands killed on Pakistani soil and the billions spent fighting extremists.

The announcement over aid comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford are preparing to meet this week with Pakistan's newly elected prime minister, Imran Khan.

"We will sit with him, present our point of view and exchange ideas".

But US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups, which attack Afghanistan from safe havens along the border between the two countries. The issue of combatting terrorism is expected to be raised by Pompeo during his talks with Khan in Islamabad this week. While the USA appears to believe this is a simple way to "punish" Pakistan for not behaving as they'd prefer, it also risks alienating Pakistan, and convincing them to stop providing aid to the U.S. at all, knowing there's a good chance they'll never get paid for it.

"With the visit of the US Secretary of State we have an opening and a beginning can be made, and we will try to build a consensus in areas of mutual interest", he said.

The US and Taliban may be locked in a different kind of race now: both are trying to maximise their advantage on the battlefield to win greater concessions from the other side at the dialogue table.

Mr. Qureshi said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government was not responsible for the latest tension or suspension of funds by the the deal to reimburse Pakistan the cost of war on terror was agreed in past.

In an exclusive interview to Jang and The News, the federal minister said that the upcoming election in India and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's anti-Pakistan stance were the reasons behind the government's low expectations to immediately mend ties with its neighbour.

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