U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced Thursday it would freeze nearly all security aid to Pakistan until “the Pakistani government takes decisive action” against terrorist groups.
Although Nauert did not specify an amount, the freeze can be estimated in hundreds of millions given that a day prior U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the Washington would withhold US$255 million in assistance to Pakistan.
The announcement come days after U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Pakistan’s fight against terrorism tweeting on Jan. 1 that the U.S. had “foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid in the last years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit.”
In response Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif reminded Trump: "You carried out 57,800 attacks on Afghanistan from our bases, your forces were supplied arms and explosives through our soil, thousands of our civilians and soldiers became victims of the war initiated by you."
Pakistan also summoned U.S. Ambassador David Hale to discuss the statement and lodged a strongly-worded protest.
The diplomatic crisis was unleashed by President Trump less than a week after China, Pakistan and Afghanistan launched a trilateral cooperation mechanism designed to advance China's proposed global trade route, the One Belt, One Road initiative, which passes through Pakistan and will potentially include Afghanistan.
In the past months the U.S. government has publicly threatened nations and institutions that do not comply with its policies and interests, using the financial aid it provides.
After the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the U.S. unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Dec. 21, Haley said the U.S. would remember the vote “when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the U.N.” Prior to the vote Trump had warned: “let them vote against us ... We’ll save a lot.”