WASHINGTON: Some legislative changes in the US National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) this year will lead to withholding of $350 million American aid to Pakistan, says an official US report.

On Jan 4, the US State Department announced that Washington had suspended security assistance to Pakistan until Islamabad took decisive action against the Taliban and the Haqqani network.

So far, various figures have been quoted on how much aid has been suspended. But the report by the office of the US Special Inspector General Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is the first to quote a specific figure.

The report, submitted to Congress this week, also warned that the Afghan government has been gradually losing control over its territory.

Since 2009, the number of districts controlled or influenced by the Afghan government has been declining gradually while the number controlled or influenced by the militants has been rising, the report added. Inspector General John Sopko also complained that the Pentagon had restricted SIGAR’s access to information about war casualties and on the areas that are under the control of Taliban and the Afghan government.

But on Tuesday, the BBC news network published a report on the current situation in Afghanistan, showing that the Taliban are active in 70 per cent of the territory, fully controlling four per cent, and have an open physical presence in another 66 per cent.

“Presumably the Taliban knows the territory that it has won, and the government knows the territory that it has lost,” Peter Galbraith, a former United Nations’ Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, told Al Jazeera.

In a chapter titled “Regional Dynamics,” the SIGAR report pointed out that US frustration with Pakistan grew throughout the reporting period, November 2017 to January 2018. On Jan 1, President Donald Trump tweeted that Pakistan provides safe haven to terrorists who operate in Afghanistan and vowed to no longer provide foreign aid to Pakistan. And four days later, the administration announced that it was suspending security aid to Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2018

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