Pakistan responds angrily to Trump tweet, summons US ambassador
Pakistan lashed out Monday after President Trump accused its leaders of “lies & deceit” and suggested the United States would withdraw financial assistance to the nuclear-armed nation it once saw as a key ally against terrorism.
U.S. Ambassador David Hale was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to discuss the president’s statement, U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said. Pakistan lodged a strongly worded protest and asked for clarification about Trump’s comments, according to two foreign office officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Pakistan’s prime minister, Shahid Abbasi, called a Cabinet meeting for Tuesday and a meeting of the National Security Committee on Wednesday to discuss Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet.
It was the president’s latest broadside against Pakistan after a speech in August in which he demanded its leaders crack down on the safe havens enjoyed by Taliban militants fighting U.S.-backed forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump wrote.
Trump’s face was plastered across TV channels in Pakistan. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif went on Geo TV, the country’s biggest news channel, to respond.
“We have already told the U.S. that we will not do more, so Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance,” Asif said.
He said that Trump was disappointed that the U.S. was losing its 16-year war in Afghanistan and trying to blame Pakistan. He also said Pakistan was “ready to publicly provide every detail of the U.S. aid that it has received.”
Pakistani officials maintain the billions it has received from the U.S. were mainly reimbursements for supporting U.S.-led coalition forces that invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to topple the Taliban regime that sheltered Al Qaeda.
Opposition politician Shireen Mazari called Trump “shameless.”
“We have sacrificed our citizens & soldiers fighting [your] war which we [should] never have done,” Mazari said.
Afghan officials have cheered Trump’s tough talk against Pakistan, which it accuses of sponsoring terrorist attacks on Afghan soil. But some analysts say Trump is playing a dangerous game by challenging Pakistan’s security establishment, which many U.S. officials view as essential to forging a peace agreement with the Taliban.
Still, Pakistan has periodically taken steps to show it is cooperating against militants. In October, security forces freed two hostages, including an American woman, held by a Taliban-linked group for five years.
On Monday, Pakistan passed an order prohibiting donations to people and groups under United Nations Security Council sanctions. The move was seen as targeting Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the deadly 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, who runs a high-profile political organization in Pakistan despite a $10 million reward issued by the U.S. for information leading to his conviction.
Special correspondent Sahi reported from Islamabad and Times staff writer Bengali from Mumbai, India.
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