U.S. Freezes Military Aid to Pakistan

 Gabrielle Levy

The State Department said Thursday it would suspend U.S. military aid to Pakistan, days after President Donald Trump accused the country of "lies & deceit" in an early morning tweet on New Year's Day.

Administration officials did not specify exactly how much of the $1.1 billion in aid authorized by Congress in 2016 would be withheld. The administration in August notified Pakistan it was withholding $255 million until the country's leaders agreed to step up anti-terrorism efforts.

"Pakistan has the ability to get this money back in the future, but they have to take decisive action" against groups like the Taliban that are "destabilizing the region and targeting U.S. personnel," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday more bluntly accused Pakistan of playing "a double game for years."

"They work with us at times and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan," she said, adding that the U.S. could make some case-by-case exceptions based on critical to national security interests.

It's not clear what, specifically, what motivated Trump's early Monday tweet threatening U.S. aid to the onetime close ally.

"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," he wrote. "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

Pakistan responded furiously, with Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir-Khan saying on Twitter that while Pakistan has "decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs," it has received "nothing but invective& mistrust" from the U.S. in return.

"We have contributed and sacrificed the most in fighting international terrorism and carried out the largest counter terrorism operation anywhere in the world," Pakistan's U.N. Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said Wednesday. "We can review our cooperation if it is not appreciated."

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