A US Congressional report on Friday stated that the security assistance to Pakistan will remain suspended pending “decisive and irreversible” on action against terrorist groups ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the United States.
At the direction of US President Donald Trump, the government had suspended all its security assistance to Pakistan in January 2018.
This is the first high-level visit by a Pakistani prime minister to the White House during the Trump administration.
“Pakistan is a haven for numerous Islamist extremist and terrorist groups, and successive Pakistani governments are widely believed to have tolerated and even supported some of these as proxies in Islamabad’s historical conflicts with its neighbours,” the independent Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report.
“2011 revelation that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had enjoyed years-long refuge in Pakistan led to intensive US government scrutiny of the bilateral relationship. It also sparked congressional questioning of the wisdom of providing significant aid to a nation that may not have the intention or capacity to be an effective partner”, the report further said.
Relations between Pakistan and the US have been turbulent since President Donald Trump took office in 2017 as he repeatedly singled out Islamabad for “failing to rein in extremists” and being an “unfaithful partner in the fight against militants”.
Pakistan is hopeful that Imran Khan’s trip to the White House later this month would help repair its acrimonious relationship with the US.
“The Trump administration has taken a harder line on Pakistan than its predecessors, sharply cutting assistance and suspending security-related aid” the CRS report added.
During a September 2018 visit to Islamabad amidst talk of a “reset” of bilateral ties, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed hope that the US could find common ground with Pakistan’s new leadership. But mutual distrust was seen to be pervasive in the relationship and American leverage was much reduced.