$300 mn not military aid, US owes this to Pakistan for support in war against terror, claims Shah Mehmood Qureshi

Islamabad: Pakistan claimed on Sunday that the $300 million aid the Pentagon has decided to scrap was not a military aid as the US owed this money to Islamabad for its support in the war on terror and was supposed to reimburse it.

At a hurriedly called press conference after the Pentagon announced that the US will cancel $300 million in military aid to Pakistan over its failure to take actions against terror groups, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the matter will be taken up during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the country on 5 September.

“The $300 million is neither aid nor assistance — it is the money Pakistan spent from its resources against militants and in the war against terrorism. This is the money they (US) are supposed to reimburse, but now either they are not willing or unable to pay back,” he said. “It was all our money that we spent and they (US) were merely reimbursing it,” he said.

Earlier he told the BBC Urdu that the US in principle should pay back the money to Pakistan because it was spent for a common objective to defeat militancy and create peace and stability. “We will sit and discuss this with him (Pompeo). We will try to improve bilateral ties between the two countries. We will listen to him and present our point of view to him as well,” he said.

In a fresh blow to the deteriorating ties between the two nations, the Pentagon announced that the US will cancel $300 million in military aid to Pakistan over its failure to take “decisive actions” to support President Donald Trump’s new South Asia policy and act against terror groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The announcement comes just days before Pompeo is due to visit Pakistan to meet the country’s new prime minister Imran Khan. The US and others have long complained that Pakistan provides safe haven to militant networks, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. The Pentagon’s move, which needs to be approved by the US Congress, is part of a broader suspension of aid announced in January.

To a question about options for Pakistan to get the stopped funds, Qureshi said Pakistan will talk to the US because the money was already spent by Pakistan.
“If they don’t want to reimburse for future spending, it may be different thing. But morally and in principle, they should reimburse what we spent in the past,” he said.

He said Pakistan welcomes the forthcoming visit of Pompeo as it will help to understand each other’s point of view. “There are two sides of a picture. They (US) are showing only one side of it; we will show the other side,” he said. He added that there is a trust deficit between Pakistan and the US but the government wants to improve the ties and build trust between the two countries.

Qureshi said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government was not responsible for the latest tension or suspension of funds by the US as the deal to reimburse Pakistan the cost of war on terror was agreed in past. He also blamed the government of former premier Nawaz Sharif for current tension with the US. Qureshi said the new government of Imran Khan will take all decision keeping in mind the interests of Pakistan.

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  and deceit” in return for millions of dollars in aid over the years. Trump in August last year unveiled his new South Asia policy and asked Pakistan to do more against such groups.

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