Secretary of Defense James Mattis has decided not to send full military reimbursements to Pakistan after telling Congress that the country has not cracked down on the Haqqani terror network.
“The funds could not be released to the Government of Pakistan at this time because the secretary could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network per the requirement in the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act,” Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told Reuters Friday.
However, Pakistan did receive $550 million out of the total possible amount of $990 million for fiscal year 2016 from the Coalition Support Fund, which was established to reimburse partner countries for conducting counter-terrorism operations.
Mattis’ failure to certify that Pakistan has aggressively cracked down on terror groups may be part of the Trump administration’s overall effort to put pressure on Pakistan, as militant groups in the region often operate with far too much latitude in Afghanistan.
“This decision does not prejudge the conclusions of the White House review of South Asia strategy, which is still ongoing,” Stump said.
The Department of State also released its 2016 Country Report on Terrorism on Wednesday, and listed Pakistan as a nation providing safe havens to terror groups. According to the report, “Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or Haqqani, or substantially limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan, although Pakistan supported efforts to bring both groups into an Afghan-led peace process.”
Following the report, Pakistan officials vigorously objected and said they have conducted extensive operations against terror groups in tribal areas.
The Haqqani network is apparently responsible for attacks on U.S. forces, and also Indian forces, in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon has stressed to Pakistan that it is in the country’s own interest to “eliminate all safe havens” for terror groups which pose threats to U.S. interests.
Even before Mattis arrived on the scene, the Pentagon also withheld $300 million in military reimbursements in 2016 under the leadership of then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.
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