White House to announce cuts in 'security assistance' for Pakistan

WASHINGTON, Jan 3 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has been informing members of Congress that it will announce as soon as Wednesday plans to cut off "security assistance" to Pakistan, congressional aides said on Wednesday, a day after the White House warned Islamabad it would have to do more to maintain U.S. aid.

Aides in two congressional offices said the State Department called on Wednesday to inform them that it would announce on Wednesday or Thursday that aid was being cut off, although it was not clear how much, what type or for how long.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declined to say whether an announcement was imminent. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Pakistan debates how to fill education gaps
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Pakistan debates how to fill education gaps

Students memorise the Koran at the Al-Nadwa Madrassa in Murree, Pakistan, October 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Students share a textbook during an English class at the Mashal Model school in Islamabad, Pakistan, September 26, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

A girl attends morning assembly at the Mashal Model school in Islamabad, Pakistan, September 29, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Children play on the monkey bars at the Mashal Model school in Islamabad, Pakistan, September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ EDUCATION" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.

Pictures and charts are displayed on a classroom wall at the Mashal Model school in Islamabad, Pakistan, September 26, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Students look out of the door as their teacher writes on the board at the Mashal Model school in Islamabad, Pakistan, September 26, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Students use computers in the technology lab at the Headstart private school in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 9, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Students eat lunch in the cafeteria at the Headstart private school in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 9, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Younger students take an afternoon nap at the Al-Nadwa Madrassa in Murree, Pakistan, October 24, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Students listen to their teacher during a lesson at the Islamabad College for girls in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 13, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

A view of the Al-Nadwa Madrassa in Murree, Pakistan, October 24, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

A man prays at the Al-Nadwa Madrassa in Murree, Pakistan, October 24, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Students attend class at the Headstart private school in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 9, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

A librarian selects books which are being catalogued in the library at the Al-Nadwa Madrassa in Murree, Pakistan, October 24, 2017.

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Students wait for prayer time to perform ablution at the Al-Nadwa Madrassa in Murree, Pakistan, October 24, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

A student looks at a flowerbed beneath portraits of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan (R) and Allama Iqbal, the national poet and philosopher who inspired the Pakistan movement, at the Islamabad College for girls in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

A monitor walks down a hallway at the Headstart private school in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 9, 2017. R

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Students walk to their classroom at the Islamabad College for girls in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 13, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

A teacher speaks to students during a computer studies class at the Islamabad College for girls in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 13, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Students stand during morning assembly at the Islamabad College for girls in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

Students work in the library at the Islamabad College for girls in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

A student takes notes during class at the Islamabad College for girls in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

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The calls to Capitol Hill came a day after Washington accused Pakistan of playing a "double game" on fighting terrorism and warned Islamabad it would have to do more if it wanted to maintain U.S. aid.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that Washington would withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan. Her statement followed an angry tweet from Trump on Monday that the United States had been rewarded with "nothing but lies and deceit" for giving Pakistan billions in aid.

Pakistan civilian and military chiefs rejected what they termed "incomprehensible" U.S. comments and summoned U.S. Ambassador David Hale to explain Trump's tweet.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been strained for years over Islamabad's alleged support for Haqqani network militants, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban.

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Haqqani network -- a Taliban-linked group
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Haqqani network -- a Taliban-linked group
MIRAM SHAH, PAKISTAN - APRIL 2: A picture dated 02 April 1991 shows Afghan commander Jalaluddin Haqqani (C) at his Pakistani base in Miram Shah with Amin Wardak and Abdul Haq, two top guerilla commanders. The Taliban said they had surrounded 50 followers of opposition commander Abdul Haq and acclaimed his capture 26 October 2001 as a major triumph, Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) news agency said. (Photo credit should read ZUBAIR MIR/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with Afghanistan-Pakistan-unrest-Haqqani,FOCUS by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson In this photo taken on April 8, 2010, an Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier inspects seized guns recovered during a house-to-house search in Shembowat village of Khost province. Hours before the children arrive, US soldiers take up positions in a pitch-black school, rooms riddled with bullets holes from one of a wave of attacks blamed on the Haqqani network. When the sun rises, their Afghan counterparts go house-to-house around Shembowat village to try and root out supporters of a Haqqani cell that has been mounting attacks on security forces in the mountains of Khost province. This is the heartland of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated armed group that has become a particularly prickly thorn in the side of US-led forces trying to bring security to eastern Afghanistan. The network is one of their toughest foes. Its leadership is based in Pakistan, it has a decentralised cell structure, close ties with foreign militant groups including Al-Qaeda and a long history in the area. AFP PHOTO/Massoud HOSSAINI (Photo credit should read MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with Afghanistan-Pakistan-unrest-Haqqani,FOCUS by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson In this photo taken on April 8, 2010, Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers near weapons recovered during a house-to-house search in Shembowat village of Khost province. Hours before the children arrive, US soldiers take up positions in a pitch-black school, rooms riddled with bullets holes from one of a wave of attacks blamed on the Haqqani network. When the sun rises, their Afghan counterparts go house-to-house around Shembowat village to try and root out supporters of a Haqqani cell that has been mounting attacks on security forces in the mountains of Khost province. This is the heartland of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated armed group that has become a particularly prickly thorn in the side of US-led forces trying to bring security to eastern Afghanistan. The network is one of their toughest foes. Its leadership is based in Pakistan, it has a decentralised cell structure, close ties with foreign militant groups including Al-Qaeda and a long history in the area. AFP PHOTO/Massoud HOSSAINI (Photo credit should read MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with Afghanistan-Pakistan-unrest-Haqqani,FOCUS by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson In this photo taken on April 8, 2010, an Afghan National Army (ANA) General shows seized explosives near guns recovered during a house-to-house search in Shembowat village of Khost province. Hours before the children arrive, US soldiers take up positions in a pitch-black school, rooms riddled with bullets holes from one of a wave of attacks blamed on the Haqqani network. When the sun rises, their Afghan counterparts go house-to-house around Shembowat village to try and root out supporters of a Haqqani cell that has been mounting attacks on security forces in the mountains of Khost province. This is the heartland of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated armed group that has become a particularly prickly thorn in the side of US-led forces trying to bring security to eastern Afghanistan. The network is one of their toughest foes. Its leadership is based in Pakistan, it has a decentralised cell structure, close ties with foreign militant groups including Al-Qaeda and a long history in the area. AFP PHOTO/Massoud HOSSAINI (Photo credit should read MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - May 24: U.S. soldiers on a mission to apprehend an alleged Haqqani network fighter they suspected of participating in a bombing that killed 5 Afghan policemen in January.  (Photo by Joshua Partlow/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY 'Afghanistan-unrest-Haqqani-Pakistan,FOCUS' by Benjamin Sheppard US soldiers from Viper company (Bravo) 1-26 Infantry are seen on foot patrol in a mountainous area 30 kilometers from the border with Pakistan at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province, east of Afghanistan on June 24, 2011. The United States is preparing for talks with Taliban rebels to end the war in Afghanistan, but the real enemy in the country's east is another militia group viewed as beyond reconciliation. The brutal Haqqani network is the driving force behind the insurgency along much of Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, and its rejection of any Kabul government presents a major threat to the developing peace plans. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
PAKTIKA, AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 28: Apache Company 2-28 Infantry patrol Sar Hawza on August 28, 2011 in the Paktika Province in Afghanistan. The region has been under attacks by the Haqqani Network. (Photo by Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images)
PAKTIKA, AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 28: Apache Company 2-28 Infantry patrol Sar Hawza on August 28, 2011 in the Paktika Province in Afghanistan. The region has been under attacks by the Haqqani Network. (Photo by Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images)
PAKTIKA, AFGHANISTAN - SEPTEMBER 2: Apache Company 2-28 Infantry patrol Mata Khan on September 2, 2011 in the Paktika Province in Afghanistan. The region has been under attacks by the Haqqani Network. (Photo by Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images)
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 31:Afghani and U.S. soldiers patrol Afghan villages asking about Taliban and Haqqani network activity in the area in the Paktika Province, Afghanistan on October 31, 2011. U.S. soldiers were trying to determine if insurgents passed through the villages and how they were treating the people. They entered the men of the villages into their biometric database, taking finger-prints and retinal scans(Photo by Joshua Partlow/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - NOVEMBER 11: The scene with the bullet holes on the wall where Nasiruddin Haqqani, the eldest son of Jalaluddin Haqqani the chief of the Haqqani network is shot dead in Barakahu town near Islamabad on 10 November. (Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Pakistani children look at bullet holes at the spot where Nasiruddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the feared militant Haqqani network, was assassinated outside the Afghan bakery in the Bhara Kahu area on the outskirts of Islamabad on November 11, 2013. A senior member of the Haqqani militant network which is seen as one of the biggest threats to US-led forces in Afghanistan has been shot dead in the Pakistani capital, the Taliban said November 11. AFP PHOTO/Farooq NAEEM (Photo credit should read FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Insurgents suspected of being from the Haqqani network are presented to the media at the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) headquarters in Kabul on May 30, 2013. Afghan intelligence agents captured six militants with suicide vests and heavy weaponry who were planning a major attack in Kabul. AFP/ Daud Yardost (Photo credit should read DAUD YARDOST/AFP/Getty Images)
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The United States also alleges that senior Afghan Taliban commanders live on Pakistani soil and has signaled it will cut aid and take other steps if Islamabad does not stop helping or turning a blind eye to Haqqani militants crossing the border to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

Many members of the U.S. Congress, particularly Republicans, who control both houses of the legislature, have been critical of the Pakistani government and called for cuts in military and other aid.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Steve Holland and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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