ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistan military declared Sunday that it doesn't need U.S. aid, as the White House confirmed that United States is withholding about $800 million in aid to Pakistan's armed forces.
Tense relations between Islamabad and Washington worsened in May after the U.S. raid in northern Pakistan, during which Osama bin Laden was killed.
At stake is Pakistan's cooperation against al-Qaida, the Taliban and other extremist groups. Much of al-Qaida's remaining leadership is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, while Pakistani territory is used as a haven by the Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network, fighting across the border in Afghanistan.
"The Pakistani relationship is difficult, but it must be made to work over time," William Daley, the White House chief of staff, said on ABC television Sunday. "But until we get through these difficulties, we will hold back some of the money that the American taxpayers have committed to give them." Daley said the figure amounted to about $800 million.
The cutback seemed to be a direct response to recent moves by Pakistan, which expelled U.S. military trainers from the country, limited the ability of U.S. diplomats and other officials to get visas and restricted CIA operations allowed on its territory.
There are also questions about U.S. civilian aid to Pakistan, about $1.5 billion a year.
Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the chief spokesman for the Pakistan armed forces, said the military was not officially notified that aid had been cut. He also pointed out that the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, had declared that U.S. cash reimbursements to the military should go instead to the civilian government, which needed the money more.
"We have conducted our (anti-extremist) military operations without external support or assistance," Abbas said. "Reports coming out of the U.S. are aimed at undermining the authority of our military organizations."