Pak-US ties at a standstill: FM

Briefing reporters Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reported 'forward movement' in talks insisting there was no demand of 'do more' from Washington

The U.S. military said it has made a final decision to cancel $300 million in aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of not doing enough to root out militants from its border region with Afghanistan.

Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy, the remaining $300 million was reprogrammed by the Department of Defense (DoD) in July 2018 time frame for other urgent priorities before the funds expire on September 30, he said.

The suspension comes days before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to meet with Khan in Islamabad.

The U.S. has consistently engaged with Pakistan's top military officials, pressing them to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups that threaten regional stability and security, the Pentagon has said.

He said the other $500 million in Coalition Support Funds was stripped by Congress from Pakistan earlier this year, to bring the total withheld to $800 million. The top U.S. military officer in Pakistan, General Joseph Dunford, will accompany Pompeo, according to reports. Pakistan, which serves as a key route for transporting supplies to US forces in Afghanistan, has repeatedly denied harboring terrorists.

The Trump administration has been quietly cutting scores of Pakistani officers from coveted training and educational programmes that have been a hallmark of bilateral military relations for more than a decade.

Pakistani President Imran Khan has called for a new, "mutually beneficial", relationship with the US that breaks with the antiterrorism partnership dating to 2001.

President Donald Trump has previously accused Pakistan of deceiving the U.S. while receiving billions of dollars.

To a question about options for Pakistan to get the stopped funds, Mr. Qureshi said Pakistan will talk to the US because the money was already spent by Pakistan. The focus in Afghanistan should be a peace process with the Afghan Taliban, and while Pakistan has consistently expressed an interest in supporting a peace process, it can only do so much in the face of political disarray in Afghanistan and reluctance in the USA to engage the Taliban in dialogue.

The State Department said the USA government stood by its statement.

Among the issues Mr. Pompeo is expected to raise on his visit is counterterrorism in the region.

"Pakistan is ready to play its role for Afghan peace as it is in its own national interests".

In an event organised by Youth Congress, Sidhu yesterday clarified his stand and said dialogue was the only way to improve ties with Pakistan.

In January, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the Pentagon suspended $1 billion in aid to Pakistan for failing to effectively combat the Haqqani terrorist network. Hussain cited tension in the USA relations with China, Russia, and Iran.

China has also deepened ties with Pakistan in all fields and is investing unprecedented billions of dollars in the country to help its traditional ally overcome its economic and energy challenges.

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