ISLAMABAD – The government of the United States sent on Monday its first high-level mission to Pakistan since announcing the suspension of security aid to the country for failing to act against terrorist groups.
Alice G. Wells, head of the Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, arrived in Islamabad on Monday, according to Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson of Pakistan’s foreign ministry.
“Her third visit since last August, it is part of the regular engagement between the two countries to find common ground on shared objectives of peace and stability in the region,” Faisal wrote on Twitter.
The spokesperson shared photos of Wells, who also holds the post of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, along with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.
This is the first Pakistan visit by a senior US official since Jan. 4, when Washington announced the suspension of the coalition support funds in Pakistan until Islamabad takes “decisive” steps against terrorist groups.
The US Department of State did not specify the exact amount of the suspended aid but said it was significant.
The suspension came after US President Donald Trump tweeted on Jan. 1 accusing Islamabad of “lies and deceit” and “giving safe haven to the terrorists,” and that the US “has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years.”
The US and Afghanistan have for years accused Pakistan of providing refuge to the Taliban’s Haqqani network, which stages attacks on US and Afghan troops, a claim that Islamabad denies.
After the US decision, Pakistan has defended its role in the war against terrorism, citing the figure of 60,000 deaths and economic losses worth $123 billion suffered since 2001.
A source in Pakistan’s foreign ministry indicated last week that Islamabad was ready to accept some of the US demands since it cannot allow a confrontation with Washington.
US and Afghanistan have also accused Pakistan of giving shelter to Taliban factions, another claim rejected by Pakistan, although Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Omar died in a hospital in Karachi in 2013, according to the Afghanistan’s top intelligence agency, and his successor, Mullah Mansour, was killed in a drone strike in Pakistani territory in May 2016.