United States (US) President Donald Trump on Monday began his new year by accusing Pakistan of giving Washington “nothing but lies and deceit”.
The US president also tweeted that Islamabad thinks of US leaders “as fools”.
He said 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 added, in what seems to be the latest iteration of Washington’s “do more” mantra.
The US president’s latest tweet follows in the aftermath of an increasingly tense back-and-forth between Washington and Islamabad after Trump announced the administration’s latest national security strategy.
During the announcement, the US president was quick to remind Pakistan of its obligation towards helping 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 said.
The Trump administration is considering withholding $255 million from a fund meant for providing military training and equipment to Pakistan, adding to already existing cuts on reimbursements, official sources told Dawn last week.
The military’s spokesman, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, at a press conference last week asserted that the aid Pakistan received from the US was “reimbursement for the 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 insisted that there are no facilitators of terrorist groups in Pakistan, reiterating Islamabad’s stance on the US’s repetitive demand for the country to “do more”.
“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 said in what is perhaps the strongest-ever reaction from Islamabad since US functionaries and statements recently began alluding to the possibility of unilateral action, amidst an ongoing row over alleged terrorist sanctuaries.
A Pentagon report to the US Congress released to the media on Dec 17 said that Washington would take ‘unilateral steps’ in areas of divergence with Pakistan while expanding cooperation between the two countries where their interests converge.
As the year came to an end, US Vice President Mike Pence in a surprise visit to Afghanistan’s Bagram air base on Dec 22 warned that Trump has now “put Pakistan on notice” in what is the harshest US warning to Islamabad since the beginning of the Afghan war over 16 years ago.
Hitting back at the US, the Foreign Office warned against a “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 maintained that recent US statements are “at variance with the extensive conversations we [Islamabad] have had with the US administration”.