–US State Dept deputy spokesperson says Pakistan needs to ‘build confidence’ with US
The United States on Friday welcomed Pakistan’s decision to open Kartarpur Corridor allowing for visa-free access to Sikh pilgrims from India.
“I understand that it is kind of a visa-free way for Indians to visit this important Sikh site. And of course, the United States would welcome efforts to increase people-to-people ties between Pakistan and India,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said.
However, the spokesperson said that Pakistan needs to “deliver outcomes and build confidence and trust” with the United States.
The secretary emphasised the need for Pakistan “to deliver outcome and build confidence and trust between our two countries”, in response to a question regarding US President Donald Trump’s recent accusations against Pakistan.
Earlier this month, the US president had said in an interview that the US “paid Pakistan billions of dollars and they never informed us he [Osama bin Laden] was living there”.
“Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!” he tweeted.
In response to a question regarding US-Pakistan relations, Palladino said that “no new meetings have been planned between the two countries at the moment”.
In an interview with Fox News, President Trump sought to justify his administration’s decision at the start of 2018 to pull military aid to Pakistan by linking it to al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden being found in Pakistan in 2011. “They [Pakistan] don’t do a damn thing for us,” the US president had said.
Responding to Trump’s statements, Prime Minister Khan had said that Islamabad had decided to “participate in the US War on Terror” although no Pakistani was involved in the 9/11 attacks.
“Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war and over $123 billion was lost,” he added, of which “US ‘aid’ was a miniscule $20bn”, the premier had said.
“Our tribal areas were devastated and millions of people were uprooted from their homes. The war drastically impacted the lives of ordinary Pakistanis,” he had said.
“Pakistan continues to provide free lines of ground and air communications (GLOCs/ALOCs),” he had added.
“Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?” he had asked.
Relations between the US and Pakistan, which began to strain in 2011, reached a new low in January when Trump suspended US security assistance to Islamabad over the alleged presence of Afghan militant groups in FATA. The government, as well as the military, had dubbed the charge as baseless.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had clarified at the time that the Coalition Support Fund, received from the US, is reimbursement of money spent on operations in support of the coalition for regional peace.