Pakistani officials bristled in response to President Donald Trump’s angry tweet about Pakistan’s “lies and deceit,” summoning U.S. ambassador David Hale to the Pakistan foreign office on Monday to explain the President’s latest move.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif dismissed the tweet, calling it a political stunt, according to a report from Reuters on Tuesday.
“He has tweeted against us (Pakistan) 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.” Asif further noted that Pakistan did not need U.S. aid.
Relations between the United States and its ally Pakistan have been strained for many years over Islamabad’s alleged support for Haqqani network militants, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban.
The United States has alleged that senior Afghan Taliban commanders live on Pakistani soil. In 2016, the then-Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was killed by a U.S. drone strike inside Pakistan and in 2011, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. troops in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.
Washington has already suggested that it will cut aid and enact other punitive measures against Pakistan if Islamabad does not stop helping or turning a blind eye to the Haqqani network militants who carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.
To that end, Trump tweeted on Monday that the United States had “foolishly” handed Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit”.
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
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 Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday will chair a cabinet meeting that will focus on Trump’s tweet, while on Wednesday the country’s top civilian and military chiefs will meet to discuss deteriorating U.S. ties.
A U.S. National Security Council official on Monday said the White House did not plan to send $255 million in aid to Pakistan “at this time” and said “the administration continues to review Pakistan’s level of cooperation.” In August, the administration had said it was delaying the payment.
Afghan and Indian officials applauded Trump’s comments.
“His Excellency President Trump has declared the reality. Pakistan has never helped or participated in tackling terrorism,” General Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghan ministry of Defence, told Reuters.
Jitendra Singh, a junior minister at the Indian Prime Minister’s Office, said Trump has “vindicated India’s stand as far as terror is concerned and as far as Pakistan’s role in perpetrating terrorism is concerned”.
China, on the other hand, is on Pakistan’s side, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang defending the country’s contributions in counter-terrorism.
“We have said many times that Pakistan has put forth great effort and made great sacrifices in combating terrorism. It has made a prominent contribution to global anti-terror efforts,” he said. “The international community should fully recognize this.”