WASHINGTON: The US administration, on Monday, defended its decision to suspend $800 million of military aid to Pakistan, saying its uneasy ally needed to make a greater effort in the fight against Islamists.
“When it comes to our military assistance, we’re not prepared to continue providing that at the pace that we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
The United States was particularly “looking to improve our cooperation in counterterrorism, in counterinsurgency,” she told journalists.
Nuland recalled that on May 25, Islamabad demanded that about 100 US advisers leave Pakistani soil, effectively halting military training, adding “we obviously can’t do that in an environment where Pakistan has asked our trainers to go.”
Earlier, US President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, William Daley, had confirmed in a television interview on Sunday that the United States had decided to withhold almost a third of its annual $2.7 billion security assistance to Islamabad.
Islamabad remains a key regional player in Afghanistan, with Obama having decided to withdraw US forces from the country by the end of 2014.
Nuland stressed Monday that “the United States continues to seek a constructive, collaborative, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan.”
“We’ve been talking to Pakistan at all levels about the issues behind these decisions,” she said.
“We are working together on how we can improve our relationship particularly in the categories of counterterrorism and counterintelligence.”
Relations between the key allies in the war on Al-Qaeda drastically worsened after US commandos killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May, humiliating the Pakistani military and opening it to allegations of complicity or incompetence.
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