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Monday / January 14.

Pakistan has not told us about suspension of defense, intel cooperation, says US

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has not formally informed the US about its decision to suspend defense and intelligence cooperation, the US Embassy in Islamabad told Arab News.
The denial came after Defense Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan said in Islamabad that his country had suspended defense and intelligence cooperation with the US amid growing diplomatic tension following the US suspension of security assistance to Pakistan.
“The facilities that we have extended to them (the Americans) are still in operation. We have not suspended them. But there is also a wide field of intelligence cooperation and defense cooperation which we have suspended,” Dastagir said Tuesday.
Richard Snelsire, the US embassy spokesman in Islamabad, said he was unaware of any formal communication by the Pakistani authorities. “We have not been formally notified of any suspension,” Snelsire said in a text message to a query by Arab News.
Pakistan and US relations have been under pressure after President Donald Trump’s tweet on Jan. 1, in which he said the “United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help.”
Dastagir said: “The recent suspension of military aid by the US comes in the wake of a more grave suspension, which is suspension of the strategic dialogue for more than a year between the US and Pakistan.”
He added, however, that the supply lines for US-led Resolute Support Mission’s troops in Afghanistan, formally known as the Ground Lines of Communication or the Air Lines of Communication, are still in operation and Pakistan has not suspended them.
Pakistani leaders disagree with the US notion of aid and insist the money given to Pakistan was reimbursement of the “part of the cost of ground facilities and air corridors used by the United States for its operations in Afghanistan” and not any “financial aid or assistance”.
American leaders have been pressing Pakistan to take action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network but Dastagir said: “Pakistan remains adamant that the Afghan war will not be fought on Pakistani soil.”
The defense minister also complained that the US has not extended help to fence the border with Afghanistan in the rugged mountains to stop the cross-border movement of militants.
Pakistan last year started fencing the border and most of the fencing will be completed this year, according to military officials.
“It is convenient to blame Pakistan for cross-border terrorism where the US has not lifted a finger to help fence-up the border,” Dastagir said.
“Now all veils are off … It is time for a courteous yet ruthlessly candid dialogue between Pakistan and the United States,” he added.
The US has long alleged that Pakistan is “providing sanctuaries to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network,” which are blamed for attacks on the US-led foreign and Afghan forces.
Defense experts in Pakistan believe Pakistan has come up with a mature and appropriate response but insist both countries should resolve differences through dialogue.
Maj. Gen. (rtd) Ijaz Awan said Pakistan was forced to take such a decision after the US used “very harsh language” and suspended its military aid and also the Coalition Support Fund that he said was estimated at more than a billon dollars annually.
“If President Trump says America first, so Pakistan has the same right to say Pakistan first. Pakistan has the leverage to minimize and cut down the level of cooperation with the US,” Awan told Arab News Wednesday. However, he suggested Pakistan should take more steps if the US keeps on taking more decisions against it.
“The US should understand that time of pressure and blackmailing has gone,” the retired general said.
The Afghan Taliban also broke their silence over the US fresh claims and rejected a statement by senior US officials about Pakistan’s support.
“The claim of Pakistan’s help with the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) is completely baseless … Pakistan has not helped the Islamic Emirate but Pakistan has in fact helped the US against us,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Arab News.

via AN