The United States has cut Pakistan’s foreign aid by $440 million, according to reports, sending mixed signals as Donald Trump seeks mediation between New Delhi and Islamabad over the crisis in Kashmir.
Washington reportedly informed Islamabad of its decision several weeks before Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the White House. During his visit, Trump said that he would “love to be a mediator” to help ease growing tensions between India and Pakistan in the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Khan was receptive to the idea, but India’s Ministry of External Affairs rejected the notion, stating that Kashmir talks were an “internal matter.”
The aid reduction means that Pakistan will receive $4.1 billion, slightly over half of the total amount promised by Washington nine years ago, the Tribune Express reported.
The aid package, originally set at $7.5 billion under the Kerry Lugar Berman Act, was implemented in 2010, but a breakdown in US-Pakistan relations has delayed the distribution of funds.
Pakistan’s Economic Affairs Ministry told the Tribune that the cuts were part of Trump’s strategy to reduce government spending by cutting aid to developing countries.
The aid cut coincides with troubling escalations in Kashmir, triggered by New Delhi’s decision to strip the territory of its special status. India has defended the decision, insisting that it was necessary in order to defend human rights and combat rampant terrorism and corruption in the territory.