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UNSC must step up pressure on Pakistan to change its behaviour: US

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United Nations :US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Thursday that the UN Security Council should step up pressure on Pakistan to “change its behaviour”.

Briefing reporters after returning from a UN Security Council visit to Afghanistan, she said Kabul has asked the 15-member powerful wing of the world body to step up pressure on Pakistan.

“They did ask us for consensus to put further pressure on Pakistan to come to the table and change their behaviour,” Haley said.

 

She said the Afghan government “continue to make 10 steps forward, and with Pakistan, they feel like they continue to take steps backwards.”

The Kabul visit of the Security Council members comes ahead of the Kabul Process meeting next month where the Afghan government is expected to present its strategy for reaching a settlement with the armed opposition.

Haley said the Afghan government is starting to see the Taliban concede, they are starting to see them move towards coming to the table.

But her country has conveyed to Pakistan that it will continue funding the component of the aid which allows for military training despite the suspension of the security assistance package, media reports said on Thursday.

Pakistan’s foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua informed the Senate’s foreign affairs committee on Wednesday that the US will keep funding the aid components that support their national interest, including the International Military Education and Training (IMET) part, Dawn reported.

The IMET programme, which focuses on military education, is meant to establish a rapport between the US military and the recipient country’s military for building alliances for the future.

Pakistan’s army officers have been trained in the US at a cost of $52 million over the past 15 years and an allocation of another $4 million has been made for the current year under this programme.

While the IMET would continue, the US has frozen the aid provided under the programmes that are more important to Pakistan, particularly the Foreign Military Financing (FMF). The recipients of FMF can use the funds under this programme for procurement of defence hardware produced by the US.

Foreign minister Khawaja Asif, while briefing the lawmakers on the current state of Pakistan’s ties with the US, said the relationship was not going “very smooth” and problems were persisting. He said the US was trying to shift the blame to Pakistan for its failures in Afghanistan.

“We have to stand up to those who accuse us of harbouring terrorists,” he remarked.

The US says that the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani networks that target American troops inside Afghanistan are allowed to take shelter in Pakistan. Pakistan denies this and, in turn, accuses the US of ignoring its vast sacrifices – casualties have numbered in the tens of thousands – in fighting terrorism.

Early this month, the US froze nearly $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan arguing that Islamabad is not taking any decisive action against terrorists operating from its soil.

The White House said it stood President Donald Trump’s comment that Pakistan had given the US nothing but “lies and deceit” in return for $33-billion aid.

“Yes,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference on Wednesday when asked if she stands by the comments the president made in the tweet.

“Our position is firm: that we believe that withdrawing that aid is important,” Sanders told reporters in response to another question.


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Pakistan puts major CPEC power project on hold, asks China to delete it from list

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Islamabad: In a setback to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Pakistan government has decided to put on hold a major power project, Rahim Yar Khan power project, and has reportedly informed the Chinese government about the same. According to a report in Pakistan-based Dawn News, the Pakistan government will shut down several other schemes under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

The report further said that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government has asked Beijing to “formally delete the project from the CPEC list”. The same was communicated to China in a meeting of the CPEC Joint Coordination Committee by Pakistan on December 20, 2018. According to the report, the project was pushed by the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz government in the past.

The development comes months after China refuted charges that Pakistan’s current economic crisis crumbled because of projects under CPEC. China had said that blaming CPEC was uncalled for and that the corridor in fact was something that would bolster Pakistan economy in the years to come.

 

The defence of CPEC was necessiated after rising voices in Pakistan against it. Several people questioned the loans taken from China and asked the terms for their repayment. Even the United States has said that the current state of Pakistani economy is a result of loans it has taken from Beijing and has made it clear that it won’t allow any bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which would be used by Islamabad to repay Chinese debt.

The IMF also later observed that increasing Chinese involvement in Pakistan’s economy could be disastrous on the latter’s future.

Islamabad has already cut the size of the biggest Chinese “Silk Road” project in Pakistan, a reconstruction of the main rail line between the port city of Karachi and Peshawar in the northwest by $2 billion, citing government concerns about the country’s debt levels. The changes are part of Islamabad’s efforts to rethink key Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan, to which China has pledged about $60bn in financing.

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Trump threatens to ‘devastate’ Turkey’s economy if it attacks Kurds

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Washington: US President Donald Trump said that America would “devastate Turkey economically” if the NATO-allied country attacks Kurds in the region. “Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining IS (Islamic State) territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms,” the President tweeted.

“Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” but followed up in a second tweet, “Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”

Turkey views some Kurdish groups in the region as terrorist organisations and Kurds make up the majority of US-allied fighters operating in Syria in the civil war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad`s regime, CNN reported.

 

It`s a stark threat toward an ally in the region that has partnered with the US in the fight against the IS. CNN reported on Thursday that the first US military ground equipment has been withdrawn from Syria, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the operation.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly lashed out at US National Security Adviser John Bolton for saying the US withdrawal was contingent upon Ankara`s pledge not to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria once troops leave.

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Bill for delisting Pakistan as major ally tabled in US Congress

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WASHINGTON: A bill seeking to remove Pakistan from a list of America’s major non-Nato allies has been introduced in the US Congress, even though the Trump administration enhances its contacts with Islamabad in its pursuit of a peaceful end to the Afghan war.

The resolution — introduced by Congressman Andy Biggs who, like the Trump administration, is a Republican — sets new conditions for future re-designation.

If a US president desires to put Pakistan back on the list, he or she will have to certify to Congress that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are contributing to significantly disrupting the “safe haven and freedom of movement” of the Haqqani Network in the country.

 

The president also has to certify that Pakistan has shown progress in arresting and prosecuting Haqqani Network’s senior leaders and mid-level operatives.
Take a look: Pakistan has given us nothing but lies and deceit, says US President Donald Trump

The re-designation will require another certification from Congress that Pakistan has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to preventing the Haqqani Network from using any Pakistani territory as a safe haven and that Pakistan actively cooperates with Afghanistan to restrict the movement of militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Known as Resolution H.R. 73, the bill has been sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary action.

Mr Biggs, a second-term legislator, has no cosponsor and his move will need a strong support from the Trump administration and the Democratic Party to pass a House dominated by the Democrats.

In recent statements, President Donald Trump has clearly expressed his desire to withdraw at least half of the 14,000 US troops still stationed in Afghanistan.

Senior Democrats — both in and outside Congress — have also said that the United States cannot remain involved in these apparently unending wars in Afghanistan and Syria.

But before an ultimate withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Trump administration wants to ensure that the pullout does not lead to the collapse of the US-backed Afghan government in Kabul.

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