It's not aid, US owes money to Pakistan in CSF: Qureshi

Published: September 2, 2018
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Foreign minister says US merely blocked money it owed to Pakistan in war against terror. SCREENGRAB

Foreign minister says US merely blocked money it owed to Pakistan in war against terror. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Sunday reacted cautiously to the US cancellation of $300 million in aid to Pakistan, insisting the money is not assistance but reimbursements for the country’s expenses in the fight against terrorism.

However, what was significant in the hurriedly-called news conference of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was that the government had decided not to react in a knee-jerk manner.

The guarded reaction came after consultations at the Foreign Office where other state institutions also gave their inputs on how to respond to the latest US move.

It was decided not to react strongly at this stage and instead wait for the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is due in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Pentagon cancels $300 million aid to Pakistan

Qureshi politely reminded the US that the cancelled $300 million was not aid but the expenses Pakistan had incurred in the fight against terrorism.

“This is not aid. This is our money that we have spent in the fight against terrorism,” the foreign minister insisted but stopped short of denouncing the US move.

Instead Qureshi said Pakistan would listen to the US concerns during the upcoming visit of Pompeo to Islamabad and added the government would also convey its concerns to the US administration as well.

Deviating from the pre-election rhetoric, Qureshi emphasised that the PTI government wanted good relationship with the US based on mutual respect and benefit.

The carefully-worded statement amply demonstrated that the PTI government had realised that bravado would not work.

Other state institutions, with a say on such matters, are also believed to have advised the government not to resort to rhetoric.

Give us three months to perform, Imran asks media

Earlier, the Pentagon announced that it was canceling $300 million in aid to Pakistan for its lack of decisive action against militant groups.

“Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy the remaining $300 (million) was reprogrammed,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said.

Faulkner said the Pentagon aimed to spend the $300 million on “other urgent priorities” if approved by Congress.

He said another $500 million in CSF was stripped by Congress from Pakistan earlier this year, to bring the total withheld to $800 million.

The announcement, coming just days before the crucial visit of the secretary of state, suggests that the US administration apparently does not expect any concession from the new government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The visit is already marred by a controversy over a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the secretary of state. The two sides issued divergent statements after the telephonic conversation.

Pakistan contested the State Department’s version that Pompeo had raised the issue of the presence of terrorist groups on the Pakistani soil with the new prime minister.

However, the Foreign Office spokesperson said Pakistan had decided to move on after the State Department reportedly shared a transcript of the telephonic conversation with Pakistan.

FM Qureshi reiterates Pakistan’s desire for better relations with US

At the heart of the controversy is the longstanding demand by the US to take action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. Despite Pakistan’s denials, the US believes that the Taliban leadership has found refuge in Pakistan.

The US has been pushing Pakistan either to take action against those groups or persuade them to come to the negotiating table.

Some observers believe the US move could be part of pressure tactics after the change of government in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in the past opposed the open-ended presence of the US forces in Afghanistan. He was also critical of the US role and insisted that Washington always used Pakistan as a client state.

However, after winning the elections, Imran said Pakistan wants to have good relationship with the US but the one that would be based on mutual respect and for the benefit of both the countries.

The cancelation of aid is part of President Trump’s New Year tweet in which he launched a scathing criticism against Pakistan for betraying the US.

The Pentagon had made similar determinations on CSF in the past but this year’s move could get more attention from Islamabad and its new prime minister, Imran Khan, at a time when the economy is struggling.

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have plummeted over the past year and it will soon decide on whether to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or friendly nations such as China.

The United States has the largest share of votes at the IMF. Imran, who once suggested he might order shooting down of the US drones if they entered Pakistani airspace, has opposed the US’ open-ended presence in Afghanistan.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • powayman
    Sep 2, 2018 - 9:36PM

    Pentagon didn’t announce a suspension – it announced its intention to cancel which means that the money is gone forever. The ambiguity is whether Congress will allow the Pentagon to keep the money and use it for another purpose (probably Afghanistan or India). Either way Pakistan loses the money. The timing of this announcement b4 the arrival of Pompeo is worrisome – might signal another shift in USA policy against Pakistan.
    .
    Some speculate that the real purpose of Pompeo visit is to remind Pakistan that USA remains Pakistan’s largest export customers and has significant influence over IMF funding. Imposing tariffs on Pakistan textiles would result in buyers switching to India, Bangladesh, Vietnam etc and have major impact on Pakistan textile producers while significantly eroding hard currency reserves. If USA prevents low interest IMF bailout then Pakistan is left with higher rate loans from China. Recommend

  • naeem malik
    Sep 2, 2018 - 11:07PM

    well no more sweets from uncle sam.Recommend

  • Luciferous
    Sep 3, 2018 - 12:19AM

    Accounting logic according to Pakistan FO; poor Mr. Qureshi…
    One might ask if money was already spent; where did it come from in the first place?Recommend

  • bogus
    Sep 3, 2018 - 2:41AM

    Qureshi is ill-prepared to deal with current USA administration. Time to forget the old mantras and deal with the practical challenges ahead of Pakistan. Recommend

  • salman
    Sep 3, 2018 - 10:29AM

    US has not given a single dollar in the last 3 years or so it does not matter. Recommend

  • Fahad
    Sep 3, 2018 - 10:29AM

    @powayman:
    It is not worrisome for Pakistan or Imran Khan. This can initiate a policy shift of Pakistan towards USA. At the same time increasing ties with Russia and Turkey.

    US is slowly loosing partners due to its rowdy behavior.Recommend

  • VINOD
    Sep 3, 2018 - 11:19AM

    Oh you mean USA trying to runaway with the money due to you. Do not leave them, immediately move “International Court Of Justice’.Recommend

  • Imran Ali
    Sep 3, 2018 - 11:25AM

    This is the reaction that Why we Sporting Iran,We should keep distance from Iran because
    we always facing difficulties from Iran end,The provide the safe way for Kaboshan to enter our
    homeland from Iran boarder, Now we facing the funds cancellation from US,,,Recommend

  • Pak No. 1
    Sep 3, 2018 - 1:26PM

    Fahad: Pakistan should give foreign exchange to Turkey and Russia as they have $466 billion and $453 billion external debt respectively and both are facing shrinking forex reserves.Recommend

  • Zahid Khan
    Sep 3, 2018 - 2:55PM

    US owes you money for killing their soldiers through your proxies for Russian and Chinese money? US has fed you since day 01 but Pakistan has always backstabbed US hence it’s time to punish this unworthy and dubious army controlled nation of fanatics. Well done USA punch them hard and it’s time to impose more sanctions on their generals and seize their bank accounts and assets abroad to teach them a lesson.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Sep 4, 2018 - 1:47AM

    Hmm, and Pakistan didn’t live up to terms of CSF, by its’ continued extensive support of Afghan Taliban and Haqqani the past decade plus!Recommend

  • Shaikh Mohommad
    Sep 4, 2018 - 1:48AM

    US Military aid to Pakistan is a result of obeying instructions from Washington. I hope and pray that Imran Khan will follow an independent policy and not be dictated by Washington. Most importantly, Imran Khan should welcome the permanent US Aid to Pakistan. Enough is enough. Recommend

  • dosteinsaf
    Sep 4, 2018 - 1:51AM

    ““This is not aid. This is our money that we have spent in the fight against terrorism,” the foreign minister insisted”

    Ya right! You have been ‘fighting against terrorism” against only the enemies of the Pakistan army and not against the real terrorists. How else would you classify the hospitality received by the global terrorist such as Osama bin Laden, Zawahiri, Khalid Sheik, Hafeez Saeed, Masood Azhar……??Recommend

  • candy
    Sep 4, 2018 - 4:47AM

    How much money has Pakistan extracted using the “you owe me” rhetoric? Probably zero. If something doesn’t work a wise person tries something new. Recommend

  • Chacha Jee
    Sep 4, 2018 - 7:29AM

    USA was giving AID, in whatever name you may call it. CPEC the game changer comes with Loans. China gives Bitter than anything know, Loans which probably Pakistan has to pay its interest only with another loan. Russian give neither AID nor Loan. Russian talk only if you have hard cash or to attract attention of Indians who have cash. In today’s ET, there is story that Indians are spending $1 Billion to raise a statue. That is called having money to burn.Recommend

  • Ravi
    Sep 4, 2018 - 7:59AM

    Why is it that not even one Pakistani suggests in his/her comments that Pakistan should stop supporting terrorists, both against Afghanistan and India? Is there not even one person who sees things the way the rest of the world sees it? Amazing that there is so much unanimity of thought.Recommend

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