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‘Good idea’: Donald Trump backs proposed legislation to end all aid to Pakistan

President Donald Trump has been tightening the noose around Pakistan for not taking tangible action against Haqqani network and Taliban and dismantling their safe havens.

world Updated: Jan 06, 2018 15:40 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,Trump,Rand Paul
US President Donald Trump at the White House lawn in Washington, on Friday. (AFP Photo)

A day after the US government suspended nearly $2 billion security-related assistance to Pakistan, President Donald Trump expressed public support for a Republican senator’s plan to introduce legislation, cancelling all aid to the country over its continued refusal to take tangible action against terrorists.

The US has given nearly $33 billion aid to Pakistan since 2002.

The president has been tightening the noose around Pakistan for not taking action against Haqqani network and Taliban and for not dismantling their safe havens.

“Good idea Rand!” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday night, retweeting a post by Rand Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky, saying, “I’m introducing a bill to end aid to Pakistan in the coming days. My bill will take the money that would have gone to Pakistan and put it in an infrastructure fund to build roads and bridges here at home.”

The legislation will end all aid to Pakistan, going beyond the suspension of security-related assistance the Trump administration announced hours later.

The Trump administration announced Thursday it was suspending — not ending, as proposed by Paul, or cancelling — nearly all security related assistance to Pakistan, that includes foreign military financing, US financial assistance to recipient country to buy US military hardware, and Coalition Support Fund, a reimbursement for expenses incurred in support of IS-led international coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Economic, or civilian, assistance was to be left untouched.

“The United States should not give one penny to countries which burn our flag and chant ‘Death to America’,” Paul said in a short video message posted online before the US administration went public with the suspension decision.

“Countries like Pakistan that stonewall access to key information in fighting terrorism don’t deserve our money,” the senator added. “I say we should stop now. Stop sending your hard-earned tax dollars to Pakistan.”

The senator said his bill would call for this saved money to be invested in building infrastructure at home in the United States.

Paul is a long-time critic of Pakistan. In February 2016, he had introduced a joint resolution in the senate opposing an Obama administration’s proposal to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan at costs subsidized by US taxpayers. “The US and Pakistan relationship has been a troubled one,” he had said in a statement. “Though the government of Pakistan has been considered America’s ally in the fight on terrorism, Pakistan’s behavior would suggest otherwise. While we give them billions of dollars in aid, we are simultaneously aware of their intelligence and military apparatus assisting the Afghan Taliban.

The resolution had fallen, but sale was blocked.

On Thursday, the senator said, “I’ve been fighting to end Pakistani aid for years. But now we have a breakthrough. President Trump has publicly called to end their aid, and is currently holding up over $200 million of it. I want to end all of it.”

First Published: Jan 06, 2018 12:07 IST