NSNEWS ONLINE DESK : Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit”, saying America was foolish to have given Islamabad more than $33bn in aid.
Trump began the new year by launching an attack on Islamabad in his first tweet of 2018, saying Pakistan was providing “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt”.
“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,” he wrote. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
The tweet on Monday comes in the aftermath of heightened tensions between Washington and Islamabad since the summer, when the US president announced his administration’s national security strategy for Afghanistan.
As part of the “fight-to-win” strategy Trump called on Islamabad to cut support for militants who find a haven along the Afghan border and warned Pakistan would have “much to lose” if it did not comply.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” he said in a speech.
In a surprise visit to Afghanistan last month, the US vice-president, Mike Pence, said the US administration was putting Pakistan on notice to end its support for Taliban insurgents, a comment that generated a chorus of criticism from the Pakistani civilian and military establishment, which has denied harboring Afghan militants.
The New York Times reported last week that the Trump administration was considering withholding $255m in aid to Pakistan over Islamabad’s failure to confront terrorism in the country. Pakistan had refused to allow the US access to a captured militant from the Taliban-linked Haqqani network. The militant was arrested in October by Pakistani troops as they rescued a Canadian-American couple who had been held captive for five years, and the US believe he could provide important information about other American hostages in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Khawaja Asif, told Geo television on Monday that Pakistan has already refused to “do more” for the United States. “We have already told the US that we will not do more, so Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance.
He tweeted: “We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly inshallah … Will let the world know the truth … difference between facts & fiction.”
The prime minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, told“We have called a cabinet meeting on this issue tomorrow.”
Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s ambassador in Washington, said in a tweet on Monday that Trump’s tweet was a “promising message to Afghans who have suffered at the hands of terrorists based in Pakistan for far too long”.
Pakistan maintains that it has continued a military operation to push out terrorists from its territory and that 17,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives in fighting militants, target killings and suicide bombings since 2001.
“America’s stance is clear and it will deteriorate relations further, the US is shifting blame of its failures in Afghanistan on Pakistan,” Zahid Husain, an analyst based in Islamabad, said.
In November, the White House condemned Pakistan’s release of Hafiz Saeed, who was accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people in the Indian financial hub.