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Through its support to the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and their militant allies, Pakistan has for over a decade consistently and critically undermined the US -led effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

A senior U.S. official has said Washington could freeze up to $2 billion in aid to Pakistan as the Department of State on Thursday announced that the security assistance to the country has been suspended until Islamabad takes decisive actions against the terror groups.

The freeze also covers US$255 million in FMF for fiscal year 2016, which falls under State Department authority and whose suspension has already been announced.

On January 5, the USA announced that it is suspending the transfer of military equipment and security-related funds to Pakistan. A super-power like the United States could get away with any blunder - that may also be its way of "balancing" equations in the region.

An article in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) had earlier noted that in South Asia "there is one clear victor from Donald Trump's tweet tantrums this week: China, which suddenly finds its leverage over Pakistan multiplying as a result of the U.S. President's mood swings". "We are conducting a complete analysis and coolly formulating our response". Pressure from the U.S. also resulted in a build-up of Pakistani military presence along the border with Afghanistan. In August, while unveiling his new South Asia strategy, Trump had accused Pakistan of giving "safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror", and said the time had come "for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace".

It is largely shrugging off the proposed U.S. aid cuts but frets that Washington could take more drastic measures to deter what it sees as Pakistan's support for the Taleban. But it could end up backfiring by diminishing the cooperation between the US and Pakistan to combat terror groups in the region. "We have certainly expressed our concern about the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks being let out of house arrest in Pakistan".

Pakistan's double game, on the other hand, has brought it tangible benefits.

"There is a Dollars 10 million reward out for information leading to his re-arrest, the person who is the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks who was let go in Pakistan", Nauert said.

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CSF funds, which fall under Defense Department authority, are covered by the freeze, said Pentagon spokesman Commander Patrick Evans, saying Congress authorized up to $900 million in such money for Pakistan for fiscal year 2017, which ended September 30. "Prior year funding for equipment that have not yet been delivered would be suspended".

During an interaction with Pentagon reporters, defence secretary Jim Mattis did not respond to question if he was in favour of cutting off the aid to Pakistan.

Later in the week, the administration followed through with concrete action, announcing that it would suspend not only the $255 million it previously withheld, but also nearly all security assistance.

Mathew Burrows, director of the Atlantic Council's Strategic Foresight Initiative, said he would describe Trump's foreign policy moves over the last week as "rhetorically aggressive", but added that few had concrete actions associated with them.

Pakistan has fought fierce campaigns against homegrown Islamist groups, and says it has lost thousands of lives and spent billions of dollars in its long war on extremism. "Pakistan has the ability to get this money back, in the future, but they have to take decisive action. They are saying that they are not very dependent on the U.S.". "So we just disagree with that", said the official who was responding to a question to a statement made by Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawja Asif who had alleged that the USA is "trumpeting India's lies and deceit" and is speaking the "language of Indians".

"We have not done anything that's irreversible here". Paul tweeted he would propose a bill to put the money intended for Pakistan into an infrastructure fund to build roads and bridges at home, Sputnik reported. "What matters I think to the Pakistanis is that it is the symbolism of doing this that it represents a deterioration of our relationship that they care about a great deal", the official said. At that time, Indian officials had been heartened by Trump's tough words on Pakistan, but had been waiting to see the follow-up.

The decision, which was announced Thursday, is meant to pressure Pakistan to help U.S. foreign policy priorities like clamping down on the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies allegations but President Trump has escalated the criticism against the country since he took office last January.

On Thursday, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson had placed Pakistan on a special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom.


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