Home >> World

Donald Trump to freeze $2 billion of Pakistan aid over terror safe havens?

President of the United States Donald Trump's freeze on aid to Pakistan could be worth almost two billion dollars, a senior US administration official said on Friday -- substantially more than first thought.

The move aimed at forcing Pakistan's military and intelligence apparatus to cut support for the Taliban and other Islamist groups, will include both US military assistance and Afghanistan coalition funding to Islamabad.

It is "approximately two billion worth of equipment and coalition support funding that is in play," the senior official said on condition of anonymity, reports NDTV.

The source added that "all options are on the table" when it comes to further moves, including stripping Pakistan of its status as a "major non-NATO ally" or calling in vital IMF loans.

After more than a decade of simmering US anger at Islamabad's links with the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network -- a Taliban affiliate -- the Trump administration is trying to draw a line in the sand.

"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," Trump tweeted on New Year's Day.

"They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

On the hook is almost $1 billion of US military equipment that has allowed Pakistan access to advanced military technology, but also funding that is meant to pay Pakistan for helping to get US and NATO materiel into Afghanistan.

Analysts believe the United States is highly unlikely to freeze all that funding, which, according to the source, totals $1.9 billion.

US officials have already indicated that there could be "exemptions" for programs deemed vital to US national security -- likely including cash for keeping Pakistan's nuclear weapons safe.

But nevertheless, the total figure of $1.9 billion is much higher than first indicated and is a signal of Washington's seriousness.

"We are still working with Pakistan and we would restore the aid if we see decisive movements against the terrorists who are as much of a threat against Pakistan as they are against us," said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.