World

Mutual interests to drive Pak-US ties forward: Foreign minister

Mutual interests to drive Pak-US ties forward: Foreign minister

US President Donald Trump since assuming office has been tough on Pakistan over its inaction against terror groups, saying Washington has got "nothing but lies & deceit" in return for millions of dollars in aid over the years.

The White House believes Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence government agency and other military bodies have long helped fund and arm the Taliban for ideological reasons.

U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, in particular, had an opportunity to authorize $300 million in CSF funds through this summer - if he saw concrete Pakistani actions to go after insurgents.

In March, a senior USA official said Islamabad had "done the bare minimum to appear responsive to our requests".

President Donald Trump has previously accused Pakistan of deceiving the United States while receiving billions of dollars. "The DoD will have a congressional response before September 30, 2018, to allow the DoD to implement the reprogramming actions", the spokesman said.

He said further funding stripped from Pakistan aid earlier this year brought the total withheld to $800m (£617m).

In a rare cooperation agreement with Pakistan last month, Moscow agreed to open doors of its military institutions for training Pakistani army officers, underscoring intensified efforts Russian Federation has been making to seek closer relations with Islamabad.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will reportedly arrive in Islamabad on Wednesday for a visit while en route to India.

"[The United States is] squeezing them when they know that they're vulnerable and it is probably a signal about what to expect should Pakistan come to the International Monetary Fund for a loan", Sameer Lalwani, co-director of the South Asia program at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington.

Mr Trump in August a year ago unveiled his new South Asia policy and asked Pakistan to do more against such groups.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's impromptu visit to Lahore in December 2015 to meet his then Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif, Sidhu said PM Modi visited there without any invitation, and that was because he understands "talks are the only way (forward)".

"With the visit of the US Secretary of State we have an opening and a beginning can be made, and we will try to build a consensus in areas of mutual interest", he said. Indeed, Khan had earlier suggested he would shoot down United States drones if they were found to enter Pakistani airspace and has openly opposed America's open-ended 17-year military presence in Afghanistan. This time may be different, however, as new Khan has said he seeks "mutually beneficial" relations with the United States.

"This is not something that we were not expecting", a senior Pakistani security official told VOA on condition of anonymity, citing continued deterioration in bilateral ties.

The Coalition Support Funds technically offer reimbursement to Pakistan's military for its operations against terrorists, of which army officials often lament a lack of recognition - particularly given a drastic reduction in terrorist attacks within Pakistan since a campaign launched in 2014.


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