Washington : The Trump administration is warning Pakistan it could lose U.S. civilian aid worth tens of millions of dollars this year if Washington finds that the South Asian nation has not done enough to combat human trafficking, U.S. officials said.
An aid cutback would deal a fresh blow to U.S.-Pakistan relations following President Donald Trump’s suspension in January of some $2 billion in U.S. security assistance over what Trump said was Islamabad’s failure to crack down on Afghan insurgent sanctuaries used for attacks into Afghanistan.
A large portion of U.S. civilian aid - $265 million in 2017, according to a source at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad – could be withheld if the State Department puts Pakistan on a list of worst global offenders in human trafficking in an annual report due out in June.
The funding is relatively modest for the size of Pakistan’s economy. But Islamabad could suffer a heavier jolt if Washington also decides to oppose new assistance from international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
By making good on its threat against Pakistan, the Trump administration would raise questions about whether it was using the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report to pressure Islamabad to do more on counter-terrorism.
Pakistan has long rejected U.S. accusations that it provides Afghan Taliban and allied Haqqani network militants with sanctuaries from which they attack the Kabul government and U.S.-led foreign forces in Afghanistan.