One day after Trump, in his first tweet of 2017, slammed Pakistan claiming the US “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” the furious Pakistani government summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest against Trump’s angry tweet which Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif dismissed as a political stunt, while also calling an emergency cabinet meeting to establish the “difference between facts and fiction.”
In the tweet, in addition to accusing Pakistan of providing “lies and deceit” also accused the government in Islamabad of providing “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help.”
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
In response, the Pakistan foreign office summoned US ambassador David Hale to explain Trump’s tweet, Reuters reported. The ministry could not be reached for comment but the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad confirmed on Tuesday that a meeting had taken place.
Foreign Minister Asif dismissed Trump’s comments as a political stunt born out of frustration over U.S. failures in Afghanistan, where Afghan Taliban militants have been gaining territory and carrying out major attacks. “He has tweeted against us and Iran for his domestic consumption,” Asif told Geo TV on Monday.
“He is again and again displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in dead-end street in Afghanistan.” Quoted by Reuters, Asif added that Pakistan did not need U.S. aid.
Speaking to local media, he accused the US of aiding and abetting terrorists that were making incursions into Pakistan. “US forces based in Afghanistan also overlooked safe havens of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which has killed thousands of Pakistanis,” he told a private TV channel, referring to a Taliban-affiliated militant group based in Pakistan’s volatile region bordering Afghanistan, as cited by the newspaper.
Asid also took to Twitter to fire back at Trump’s outburst, saying that Pakistan would soon respond. “We will reveal the truth to the entire world. We will separate fact from fiction.”
We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly inshallah…Will let the world know the truth..difference between facts & fiction..
— Khawaja M. Asif (@KhawajaMAsif) January 1, 2018
On Tuesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a National Security Committee meeting of civilian and military chiefs, focusing on Trump’s tweet. The meeting, which lasted nearly three hours, was brought forward by a day and followed an earlier meeting of army generals.
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As we reported previously, on Monday the U.S. National Security Council said the White House did not plan to send an already-delayed $255 million in aid to Pakistan “at this time” and that “the administration continues to review Pakistan’s level of cooperation”.
The spat immediately reverberated across the region, with Pakistan’s regional enemies praising Trump’s angry tweet.
Afghan defense spokesman General Dawlat Waziri said Trump had “declared the reality”, adding that “Pakistan has never helped or participated in tackling terrorism”.
Jitendra Singh, a junior minister at the Indian prime minister’s office, said Trump’s comment had “vindicated India’s stand as far as terror is concerned and as far as Pakistan’s role in perpetrating terrorism is concerned”.
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, asked during a briefing about Trump’s tweet, did not mention the United States.
“We have said many times that Pakistan has put forth great effort and made great sacrifices in combating terrorism,” he said. “It has made a prominent contribution to global anti-terror efforts.”
Meanwhile, Pakistani officials rightfully say tough U.S. measures threaten to push Pakistan further into the arms of China, which has pledged to invest $57 billion in Pakistani infrastructure as part of its vast Belt and Road initiative.
To this point, two weeks ago we reported that Pakistan is considering replacing the dollar with yuan in bilateral trade with China. Speaking to journalists, Pakistani interior minister Ahsan Iqbal said China desired bilateral trade should take place in yuan instead of dollars, in yet another push to de-dollarize what China considers its sphere of influence.
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