President Donald Trump on Monday tore into Pakistan accusing it of giving nothing to the US but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years thinking of American leaders as “fools”.
In his strongest attack against Pakistan yet, Trump in his first tweet of the year on New Year’s day also appeared to suggest he could cut off foreign aid to Pakistan.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump said in the strongly worded tweet.
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump said.
The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
His remarks come days after the New York Times reported that the US is considering withholding USD 225 million in aid to Pakistan reflecting its dissatisfaction with the latter’s reluctance in the war against terrorism.
Shortly after Trumps attack, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a Pakistani media report said.
“The meeting held a detailed review of the Trumps statement,” the Geo TV reported, citing its sources.
It said the two leaders also discussed on the country’s foreign policy.
“We will respond to President Trumps tweet shortly inshallah...Will let the world know the truth..difference between facts & fiction..,” Asif tweeted.
In November, the US had strongly condemned release of the Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed by Pakistan and had demanded his immediate re-arrest and prosecution, warning that there would be “repercussions” for bilateral ties if Islamabad fails to take “decisive action” against the JuD chief.
Saeed, who carries a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities, walked free after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case.
In his new South Asia Policy in August, Trump had called for tougher measure against Pakistan if it fails to cooperate with the US in its fight against terrorism.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan being safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbour criminals and terrorists,” Trump had said in his South Asia Policy speech.
Noting that in the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner, Trump had accused it of providing shelter to the same organisations that try every single day to kill Americans.
“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately,” Trump had said.
“No partnership can survive a country’s harbouring of militants and terrorists who target US service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace,” he had said.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied that there are any terrorist safe havens inside its territory. Both its officials in Islamabad and inside the United Nations in New York assert that there are no terrorist safe havens.
However, the top American leadership insists that there has been no change in Pakistani behaviour on this front that that it is fast running out of patience.
In December, the Pentagon warned Pakistan of unilateral action if Islamabad did not act.
In a surprise visit to Afghanistan before Christmas, US Vice President Mike Pence had issued a stern warning to Pakistan, for which using non-state actors against its two neighbours - India and Afghanistan - has been part of its national security policy.
“For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organisations, but those days are over,” Pence told American troops at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan where he made an unannounced trip on December 21.
“President Trump has put Pakistan on notice,” he had said.
Afghanistans Ambassador to the US Hamdullah Mohib welcomed Trumps tweet.
“A promising message to Afghans who have suffered at the hands of terrorists based in Pakistan for far too long,” Mohib tweeted.