US-Pakistan relations: Trump heaps more allegations on Islamabad

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By Muhammad Luqman

US President  Donald J. Trump has said that  Washington had “foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years”, but that Pakistan had given “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help”.

“No more,” he tweeted, in what seems to be the latest iteration of Washington’s “do more” mantra.

Responding to US President ‘s tweet, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said that the foreign office  would soon come up with a reply that would clearly show what is reality and what is fiction.

The US president’s latest tweet came in the aftermath of an increasingly terse back-and-forth between Washington and Islamabad since Trump announced his administration’s latest national security strategy.

During the announcement, the US president had been quick to remind Pakistan of its ‘obligation’ to help America “because it receives massive payments” from Washington every year.

“We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help,” the US president had said.

A Pentagon report to the US Congress, released to the media on Dec 17, had said Washington would also take ‘unilateral steps’ in areas of divergence with Pakistan while expanding cooperation between the two countries where their interests converge.

Subsequently, US Vice President Mike Pence had, in a surprise visit to Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase on Dec 22, warned that Trump has “put Pakistan on notice” in what was the harshest US warning to Islamabad since the beginning of the Afghan war over 16 years ago.

However, Pakistan Amry’s spokesman, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, had at a press conference last week asserted that the aid Pakistan received from the US was “reimbursement for support we gave to the coalition for its fight against Al Qaeda.”

“Had we not supported the US and Afghanistan, they would never have been able to defeat Al Qaeda,” he had said.

“The armed forces are working with friends and want to continue doing so, but there can be no compromise on our national honour. We do not want a conflict with our friends, but will ensure the security of Pakistan,” Maj Gen Ghafoor had said.

His briefing was considered perhaps the strongest-ever reaction from Islamabad since US functionaries began alluding to the possibility of unilateral action.

Hitting back at the US, the civilian-controlled Foreign Office (FO) had also warned against the “malicious campaign” being “used to trivialise Pakistan’s achievements in the war against terrorism”, and noted that “allies do not put each other on notice.”

 

The FO had further complained that recent US statements are “at variance with the extensive conversations we [Islamabad] have had with the US administration”.

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