WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Washington will cut aid to Islamabad in the form of grants, financial assistance and compensation, accusing Pakistan of treating American diplomats “badly”.
Pompeo, who was deposing at a hearing of the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee on Wednesday, was answering Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who asked why the US should continue to expend financial aid to Pakistan, which had imprisoned Shakil Afridi, a doctor who helped American forces track down Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin laden in 2011.
Pompeo said he worked “diligently” on the issue of Afridi in his previous role as the CIA director, but acknowledged that he has been “unsuccessful” so far. “Please be aware that it’s at my heart and I know it’s important and we can do that. We can achieve that outcome,” he said.
Pointing out that the US had released far fewer funds to Pakistan in 2018 than in prior years, Pompeo said that the “remainder of the funds available are under review... my guess is that the number will be smaller still”.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration had announced a drastic cut of $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan.
Pompeo said: “As part of the new South Asia strategy, we have been clear with Pakistan that ensuring reconciliation, peace, and security in Afghanistan in large part depends on Pakistan’s willingness to crack down on terrorist safe havens and instigators of terrorist activity in its own country.”
He also vented US irritation over the treatment of American diplomats in Pakistan, probably in reference to measures taken by Islamabad in the aftermath of a fatal road accident caused by a US official posted there. Both countries have since restricted the movement of each other’s diplomats on their soil.
Pompeo said “My officers — state department officials are being treated badly as well — those working in the embassies and consulates are not being treated well by the Pakistani government either.” The top US diplomat also said the US will not tolerate Russian interference in the 2018 mid-term elections and will continue to undertake “countermeasures in response to an effort to do so”.
Pompeo’s Russia remarks come in the midst of an aggressive pushback from President Donald Trump, his lawyers, and his allies against the ongoing probe by special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump recently forced the FBI to order an inquiry into its conduct of the probe and how it started.
To a question, Pompeo said the United States aims at “complete” denuclearisation by North Korea before it provides any support for the country´s economy, and that Washington wants that to happen quickly. “The model that we have laid forth is a rapid denuclearisation that will be total and complete,” he said.
“We are not going to do trade for trade. We’re not going to let this drag out. We´re not going to provide economic relief until such time as we have an irreversible set of actions, not words, not commitments, undertaken by the North Korean regime,” he said.
“When we get there, in exchange for that, we´re prepared to do a great deal to help the North Korean people.”
Asked what he means by “complete”, Pompeo said denuclearisation would encompass Pyongyang giving up its nuclear weapons capability, missile capability, and the technology behind those capabilities, including engines and systems associated with space launch vehicles. - Agencies