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Central & South Asia
US to 'defer military aid' to Pakistan
A total of $800m in aid and equipment could be either suspended or outright cancelled, The New York Times says.
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2011 05:04
US-Pakistan relations have been strained since the raid in May that killed Osama bin Laden [Reuters]

The United States is suspending about one-third of its aid to Pakistan’s military in the wake of increased tensions between the two countries, The New York Times has reported.

A total of $800m in aid and equipment could be either suspended or outright cancelled, according to three unnamed US officials quoted by the newspaper on Saturday.

Pakistan currently receives more than $2bn in military aid from the US every year.

US officials told the newspaper the aid and equipment supply could be resumed if relations improve and Pakistan takes more action against fighters.

About $300m in US funding is to reimburse Pakistan for deploying more than 100,000 troops along the Afghan border to combat Taliban and other forces. Other funding covers training and military hardware, the report said.

It said that in private briefings with congressional staffers last month, Pentagon officials said they would be taking a stronger stance toward Pakistan.

Relations with Pakistan have become increasingly tense after the secret US raid into Pakistan in May that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan has expelled 100 US military trainers as public sentiment against the US has grown.

Tensions grew in recent days after Admiral Mike Mullen, the US joint chiefs of staff, said he believed that Pakistan intelligence officials had directed the killing of a journalist.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, warned last month in testimony before Congress that the US was not prepared to continue military aid "at the pace we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken."

'Direct attack'

The NYT report came hours after the Pakistan army's chief spokesman said that the newspaper's criticism of the military and its powerful intelligence agency is a "direct attack" on his country's security.

Major General Athar Abbas said the newspaper reporting was part of a calculated plan by "unnamed officials" to "weaken the state".

"This is a direct attack on our security organisation and intelligence agencies," he told Reuters news agency.

"We consider Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as a strategic intelligence organisation, the first line of our defence."

Abbas was responding specifically to a July 8 editorial in the New York based paper that said there was evidence of complicity by the Pakistani intelligence agency in sheltering bin Laden, of ties to the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, and of involvement in the abduction and murder of Saleem Shahzad, an Asia Times Online journalist.

The US-Pakistan relationship was also damaged last year after a CIA contractor in Lahore killed two Pakistanis he said were trying to rob him.

Source:
Agencies
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