Washington, Jul 10 (IANS): The US is stopping millions of dollars in aid to the Pakistani military after the expulsion of over 100 US Special Forces trainers by Islamabad.
Quoting Congressional, Pentagon and other administration officials, the New York Times reported Saturday that about $800 million in military aid and equipment - over a third of the more than $2 billion US security aid to Pakistan - could be suspended or cancelled.
The fresh hardening of the US stand against Pakistan comes just days after Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan's ISI of ordering the kidnapping and death of journalist Saleem Shahzad.
The move to halt aid is aimed to "chasten" Pakistan for the expulsion of American military trainers and to press it to fight Taliban militants more effectively, the report said.
The curtailed aid would include $300 million that the US pays for deployment of over 100,000 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border to fight Taliban militants.
It also includes equipment that the US wants to send but Pakistan now refuses to accept. The equipment - rifles, body armour and night-vision goggles - has been withdrawn or held up after Pakistan ordered more than 100 US trainers to leave the country in recent weeks, the report said.
Humiliated over the US special forces operation inside Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden in May, Pakistan has not only closed down the US programme to train its troops battling the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the border regions and expelled US trainers but also denied visas to American personnel needed to set up this equipment, the report quoted a senior Pentagon official as saying.
American officials say aid and equipment deliveries could be revived if relations improve and Pakistan goes after terrorists more aggressively.
However, aid cut-offs won't impact military sales like F-16 fighter jets.
"The United States has long debated how hard it can push Pakistan to attack militant strongholds in the tribal area. Washington, however, depends on Pakistan as a major supply route into Afghanistan. American officials also want to monitor as closely as they can Pakistan's burgeoning nuclear weapons arsenal," the report said.