Pentagon Has No Plans to Lift Freeze on Funds for Pakistan

The United States and Pakistan remain at odds over Islamabad’s track record on countering Islamist militants near the Afghan border, and Washington has no plans to lift a freeze on a key reimbursement fund for the country, U.S. and Pakistani officials said Tuesday.

The Trump administration says Pakistan has not done enough to rein in the Haqqani network, which is blamed for lethal attacks in neighboring Afghanistan against civilians and U.S. and Afghan security forces. The impasse showed no sign of easing after a visit by Defense Secretary James Mattis to Islamabad on Monday.

“We did not talk about the Coalition Support Fund,” Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, told an audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Tuesday.

In July, Mattis suspended payments to Pakistan from the Coalition Support Fund, which the United States uses to reimburse countries for counterterrorism operations. The Pentagon said it would not resume payments until the defense secretary could certify that Islamabad had taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network and other militants who cross into Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Pakistan.

The following month, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened even further cuts to assistance to Pakistan over allegations its government harbored Taliban and other militant groups operating in Afghanistan.

In his talks with Pakistan’s political, military, and intelligence leaders, Mattis said Pakistan had a crucial role to play in promoting peace talks for Afghanistan and “reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Lt. Col. Michael Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman, said payments to Pakistan from the fund are still frozen, and that “Secretary Mattis has not yet made a decision on the certification required” by Congress to release the $400 million in counterterrorism funds for Pakistan in fiscal 2017.

Another $650 million in payments that Pakistan would have received for the prior two fiscal years have already been “reprogrammed and are no longer available to Pakistan,” Andrews said.

The suspension may not be lifted for six months at the earliest, when fighting resumes in the summer months. U.S. officials say they will not be able to assess if Pakistan has made progress and fulfilled its promises to prevent the Haqqani militants from crossing into Afghanistan until then.

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