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The US State Department said on Thursday that it was suspending security assistance to Pakistan until Islamabad takes action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, which Washington believes is destabilising the region.

The Pakistani reaction has so far been limited to harsh rhetoric, with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif saying the United States was behaving toward Pakistan as "a friend who always betrays".

"Security assistance funding and pending deliveries will be frozen but not cancelled as we continue to hope Pakistan will take the decisive action against terrorists the militant groups that we seek", the official said, adding that the United States does not intend to reprogram any funds at this time.

Trump blamed Pakistan for giving safe haven to the terrorists the USA hunts in Afghanistan in spite of receiving $33 Billion of U.S. aid in last 15 years. Islamabad denied his claim and has long decried similar allegations. "At one time Pakistan had the option to become the ally of Russian Federation but it opted to join hands with the USA instead", he said.

"The Trump administration has likely sketched out an escalation strategy and would be wise to pause after Thursday's announcement to give Pakistan the opportunity to quietly address USA concerns".

"It is important to distinguish between Pakistani foreign policy in regards to Afghanistan, policy that is shaped by Pakistan's rivalry with India, and Pakistani domestic security policy aimed at Pakistan's Taliban groups", Harrison Akins, a Middle East security expert at the Howard Baker Center, told Newsweek.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said January 4 the administration was still calculating the types of aid affected by the decision. Initially vague information on how much money and material was being withheld suggested the primary goal was to substantiate President Trump's surprising New Year's Day tweet that accused Pakistan of playing United States leaders for "fools".

The tweet drew a strong reaction from Islamabad and saw the summoning of the U.S. ambassador to the Foreign Office of Pakistan in a rare public rebuke.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that she could not provide a dollar value for the suspended aid because the administration was still calculating the types of aid affected by the decision, but said it was in addition to the $255 million in military aid it has already put on hold.

Pakistani officials say they have received $14 billion and that Washington still owes the country $9 billion.

Prominent among the suspended amount include $255 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress. None of that money has yet been disbursed.

Meanwhile, Department of Defence Spokesperson Lt Col Mike Andrews told that National Defense Authorisation Act 2017 provides up to $ 900 million for Pakistan in the CSF.

Briefing reporters, US officials stressed the suspension did not affect civilian aid to Pakistan and that the money could go through if Islamabad took decisive action against the groups.

Asif has declared USA and Pakistan are no longer friends and the bilateral ties need a serious revisit.

The suspension of security assistance to Islamabad comes after Washington accused Pakistan of playing a "double game" on fighting terrorism and warned Islamabad it would have to do more if it wanted to maintain USA aid.

That same day, an anonymous DOS official explained to reporters that the Trump administration is only freezing the aid.

Senator Paul said in his tweet, "I'm introducing a bill to end aid to Pakistan in the coming days".

In a separate statement Friday, Pakistan's foreign ministry criticized the US for "arbitrary deadlines" and "unilateral pronouncements".

Defence and State Department officials were, however, categorical that all these measures were reversible and Pakistan could get this money if it changed its behaviour.

It was followed by President Donald Trump's tweet on January 1 in which he accused Pakistan of giving nothing but lies and deceit, thinking USA leaders to be fools.

"If the funding is cut, the Pakistanis will obviously retaliate by ceasing to cooperate with the U.S.", Dr. Zubair Iqbal, an economist focusing on Pakistan, told Newsweek. ".that will allow the relationship to return to a more positive trajectory", the official said.

'Almost every military flight into Afghanistan goes through Pakistani airspace.

"What is the plan if they close the GLOCs?" she asked, using the military acronym for Ground Lines of Communications.


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