WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says it’s taken final steps to cancel $300 million in planned aid to Pakistan.
The move earlier this summer reflects the Trump administration’s dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s commitment to assisting the U.S. strategy for pressuring the Taliban, whose leaders use Pakistan as a sanctuary.
It comes at a delicate moment in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, following the election victory of Imran Khan, the new Pakistani prime minister. His foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said Sunday in Islamabad that he's expecting a visit Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"We will hear him and let him know the aspiration of the nation," Qureshi said.
When U.S. President Donald Trump took the stage Aug. 21 to lay out his new strategy for Afghanistan, he made it clear that a key part of the policy will be pushing Pakistan to change its ways.
Pentagon officials say a request was submitted to Congress this summer for authorization to use the $300 million for other purposes. The request has not yet been approved. The move was first reported by Reuters.
A Pentagon spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Kone Faulkner, said Sunday the request to Congress was made in June or July and was "due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of" the U.S. strategy for bringing the Afghan conflict to a political solution.
The Pentagon announced in January that it was suspending aid, known as coalition support funds, to Pakistan, and subsequently the Congress cancelled $500 million in such aid. But the Pentagon did not take final steps on the $300 million until this summer.
Associated Press writer Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.