US cuts aid to Pakistan, relaxes condition on Haqqani Network, LeT

KARACHI/WASHINGTON: The United States Congress on Thursday approved a $716.3-billion defence authorisation bill, wherein it made a significant cut to the security-oriented financial aid to Pakistan.

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The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2019 ramped up the military spending and avoided policy changes that would have antagonised US President Donald Trump.

In the latest NDAA, the security aid to Islamabad — that had once started from almost $750 million per year to $1 billion — was marked down to a mere $150 million. However, it also relaxed certain conditions that were attached with the financial assistance, including action against the Haqqani Network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

This crucial reduction translates into the fact that the Pentagon might not have any tools to pressurise Pakistan into taking action against the banned militant outfits. The US had earlier used these funds to ask Islamabad to do more with regard to the counterterrorism operations, especially against the Haqqani Network.

Lately, the Trump administration, which has become quite active in trying to make the Afghan peace talks work, has been pushing Pakistan to help bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in order to reach a deal with Kabul’s government.

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