- US president says Pakistan has given nothing in return to US except ‘lies and deceit’, thinks of US leadership ‘as fools’
- Pakistan FM Asif says country will ‘reveal truth to the word’, ‘separate fact from fiction’
- PM summons emergency session of federal cabinet today, NSC meeting tomorrow; joint session of both houses also summoned
WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: United States President Donald Trump on Monday began the new year by accusing Pakistan of giving Washington “nothing but lies and deceit”, announcing that the country will not get any aid in future.
Pakistan responded to Trump’s intimidating tweet with one voice, as it lodged a strong protest by summoning US Ambassador David Hale to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and serving him a demarche over the US president’s tweet.
President Trump 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”. In turn, he claimed 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 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
PAKISTAN RECORDS PROTEST WITH US ENVOY:
Foreign Office summoned US Ambassador David Hale on Monday night and lodged a protest against Trump’s tweet. The US Embassy confirmed that Ambassador Hale was summoned by the Foreign Office at 9:00 pm.
“David Hale was informed that all the state institutions stood united over Trump’s threats. The envoy was informed that there was no truth in the allegations levelled by the US president. The envoy was also told that there was no truth in US president’s assertion about US aid to Pakistan and that Pakistan had taken all these allegations seriously,” well-placed sources informed Pakistan Today.
‘PAKISTAN TO RESPOND SOON’:
Another source said that soon after Trump’s tweet came to the fore, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and briefed him on the situation. The prime minister also contacted Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa over telephone and discussed the situation in detail.
“The prime minister has decided to summon an emergency session of the federal cabinet on Tuesday (today) to discuss this matter as well as other issues of national and geo-strategic importance. Moreover, the government has decided to summon a joint session of both the houses of parliament to devise a joint strategy over the matter,” the source said.
The source added that the army’s top brass would also meet soon in the Corps Commander’s Conference to devise military’s strategy to counter any misadventure.
The source further said that an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) was also being planned on Wednesday. Besides the chiefs of the three armed forces, senior civil and military officials will participate in the NSC meeting.
Though the prime minister decided to hold back Pakistan’s rejoinder to Trump’s tirade, Khawaja Asif took to Twitter to fire a salvo at Trump, saying the Pakistan government would respond to this announcement after consultation. “We will reveal the truth to the entire world. We will separate fact from fiction,” he added.
The sources maintained that some retired generals, who had failed to deliver in Afghanistan, were misguiding Donald Trump on Pakistan.
“These failed generals want to make Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures in Afghanistan. But, Pakistan would never take the blame for the failure of the flawed US policy on Afghanistan,” the sources said.
Talking to a private TV channel, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan was fully committed to safeguard its territory. He said the United States was shifting its frustration towards Pakistan after its failure in Afghanistan.
He said the US should review its policy and opt for a peaceful solution to the situation in Afghanistan. “Military solution is not a viable solution to the situation in Afghanistan,” he added.
To a question regarding the US aid, the minister said Pakistan, an ally in the war on terror, had given free access to the United States to its land and air communication, airbases and other hardware. He said Pakistan also gave free access to the US to its military bases and international cooperation that decimated al Qaeda over the past sixteen years.
Unfortunately, Asif said, the US had given Pakistan nothing but invective and mistrust. “US forces based in Afghanistan also overlooked safe havens of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which has killed thousands of Pakistanis,” he added.
To a question, Asif said that Pakistan’s foreign policy was to safeguard its national interest. To another query about any misadventure by the US, Asif said that Pakistan was fully committed to protecting its territorial sovereignty.
Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir, while commenting on US president’s tweet, said Pakistan had extended unprecedented cooperation to the US for eliminating al Qaeda from Pakistan and Afghanistan besides fighting the war against terrorism. Pakistan did not have any safe havens for terrorists, he said.
“The terrorists from the soil of Afghanistan have targeted our armed forces and civilians due to which Pakistan had to suffer a lot,” the minister said as he made it clear that Afghanistan’s war would not be fought from the soil of Pakistan.
To a question, Dastgir said that Pakistan had started fencing to secure its border. Replying to a query, he said “it was our mistake to provide bases to the US”.
Khurram Dastagir said that Pakistan could gain nothing from the US. Pakistan had to face huge economic losses due to the war on terror, he added.
Meanwhile, military sources, while referring to the recent statement by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Maj General Asif Ghafoor in his last presser that “we are facing (US) threats, but when it comes to Pakistan, we all are one”, said it was time for a united front and having a single national narrative.
Discounting the possibility of accommodating any “do more” demands from the US, Ghafoor had said that “no more do more for anyone”.
“We fought two imposed wars,” the ISPR DG had said.
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 had said last week.
Responding to President Trump’s assertion about US funding to Pakistan, Gen Asif Ghafoor had asserted last week 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”.
The military spokesman had 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.
Commenting on blaming Pakistan for inaction against the Haqqani network, Ghafoor had said: “Blame for inaction against [the] Haqqani network might have been relevant owing to our capacity issues till Zarb-e-Azb”.
However, he added, the army went into North Waziristan indiscriminately and took action against the Haqqani Network as well. “The effect of any operation does not appear at that time. What we do today or this year, the impact will be felt in subsequent years and months.”
He further said that if there any facilitators or abettors inside Pakistan that can only be addressed if 2.7 million Afghan refugees are sent back to Afghanistan for which pull factors needed to be created by Kabul and Washington.
In December 2017, the Pentagon informed the US Congress that it 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 airbase 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 trivialize 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”.