The United States may withhold hundreds of millions of dollars owed to Pakistan for its efforts in the war against terror over concerns that its military is not doing enough to crack down on the Haqqani Network, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
Quoting US and Pakistani officials, the report said that the Pentagon recently informed Islamabad that it may withhold the final payment of $300 million under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) if the US defense secretary cannot certify sufficient action against the insurgent group responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks on foreign forces in Afghanistan.
Since 2002, the Pentagon has reimbursed Pakistan about $13 billion for its support of the US-led war in Afghanistan. But Congress has made part of this year’s $1.1 billion payment contingent on Pakistan’s willingness to crack down on the Haqqani network.
The report quoted a senior Obama administration official as saying that the Haqqanis, after being driven out of Miranshah in North Waziristan, “have been able to reconstitute in a meaningful way elsewhere in Pakistan, and are currently involved in lethal attack planning against high-profile targets, including in Kabul.”
“That is dangerous to US forces, disruptive to progress between Afghanistan and Pakistan… and goes against commitments that the Pakistani government has made,” added the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Although he praised the military offensive in Pakistan’s tribal areas, acknowledging that it had “significantly disrupted a number of terrorist organisations,” the official said “the overall success of the operation will be whether the militants are truly removed.”
The senior Obama administration official said that $100 million of this year’s $1.1 billion CSF appropriation has been paid, and “an additional $300 million is already in the pipeline.”
“There’s an additional $400 million that they can get without certification,” the official was quoted as saying. “The holdup of the final $300 million is not something that is going to happen soon. It’s just something that [the Defense Department] has reminded the Pakistanis of,” he added.
Meanwhile, an official of Pakistan’s foreign ministry quoted in the report said the full payment is “important to us both politically and financially.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2015.