ISLAMABAD: US National Security Adviser John Bolton has said the military aid suspension to Pakistan was not taken lightly by the Trump administration.
In his address to a Washington think-tank on Monday— the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, Bolton said the war against terrorism was a matter of extraordinary importance to America.
Bolton was quoted as saying by the Financial Express that the US wanted Pakistan to cooperate fully in the war against terrorism. “It was before my time, but the Trump administration did not take the decision to cancel a substantial part of the military aid package to Pakistan lightly,” he said.
“It was done knowing full well that Pakistan is a nuclear weapons state, and the risk that the government could fall into the hands of terrorists…” In January, US President Donald Trump suspended most of military aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of allowing the Taliban to use its territory for attacks in Afghanistan.
In August this year, the US Congress passed a $716.3 billion defense authorization bill, significantly slashing the security aid to Pakistan to $150 million per year. The security-related aids have been around $750 million to $1 billion until now.
Last week, the Pentagon asked Congress to allow it to use for other purpose the funds that had been set aside for Pakistan. The re-allocation ended the possibility that the funds earmarked for Pakistan could be released if Islamabad agreed to take the required action against various terrorist groups.
During his visit to Islamabad last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had pressed the new Pakistani government to rein in the groups reportedly operating from its soil. Bolton said Secretary Pompeo wanted to convey the message that “we hoped and expected that Pakistan would cooperate fully in the war against terrorism, which they had committed to do.”
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry quoted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as assuring Pakistan last week that Washington would not try to block any request for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund
A spokesman for the U.S. State Department told Reuters that Washington wanted to see “a prosperous Pakistan that contributes positively toward regional stability and security.”
The spokesman added: “We understand that Pakistan has not requested assistance from the IMF. If they do request assistance, as we do in all cases in evaluating any loan program, we will examine closely all aspects.”
The new Imran Khan-led government, which assumed charge in August, is trying to avert a currency crisis caused by a shortage of dollars in an economy hit by a ballooning current account deficit and dwindling foreign currency reserves.