President Trump says ISIS 'falling fast' ahead of meeting at Pentagon

Those hopes were bolstered when the administration announced decisions on troop numbers would be the exclusive domain of Mr. Mattis and his staff.

"The funds could not be released to the Government of Pakistan at this time because the secretary could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network", Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

The funds being withheld is part of a Pentagon program called Coalition Support Fund, which aims to reimburse USA allies and partners for their counterterrorism operations, Xinhua news agency reported. Pakistan has been reimbursed $550 million of the $900 million the country was authorised to receive in fiscal year 2016. Last year, the Pentagon withheld another $300 million in payments on similar grounds.

The United States will withhold $50 million remaining in military reimbursements to Pakistan for fiscal year 2016 because Defense Secretary Jim Mattis believes that Islamabad has not done enough to blunt the Islamist militant Haqqani network, a USA official said on Friday.


The US announcement comes as Defense Secretary James Mattis and the White House debate a long-delayed strategy for the war in Afghanistan that could adopt a tougher line toward Pakistan's role in the conflict.

"[The Coalition Support Fund] is just one component of the United States' broad and enduring partnership with Pakistan", Stump said.

Inside the Pentagon, hopes were high that President Trump's emphasis on military might to achieve USA national security objectives coupled with a hands-off management style would give the department the resources and leeway it needed to bring the Afghan war to an end.

The move comes amid the Trump administration's review of U.S. policies in Afghanistan.


The meeting Thursday - Trump's second visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief - provided the president an overall view of global threats, USA military operations and other government functions worldwide, said Dana W. White, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Pakistani Foreign Affairs spokesperson Nafees Zakaria denied the claim, saying, "We have taken indiscriminate and all out action against terrorists".

Mattis' failure to certify that Pakistan has aggressively cracked down on terror groups may be part of the Trump administration's overall effort to put pressure on Pakistan, as militant groups in the region often operate with far too much latitude in Afghanistan. The Pentagon said that $300 million, however, had already been withheld and redistributed, meaning that there are no more of the funds available to Pakistan from its 2016 allotment.

Pentagon spokesman Stump said the decision did not "reduce the significance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani military has undertaken over previous years".



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