Washington: In a scathing attack, President Donald Trump on Monday accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the United States but ‘lies and deceit’ in return for $33 billion aid and said Islamabad has provided ‘safe haven’ to terrorists.
‘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,’ Trump said in a strongly worded tweet.
‘They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!’ Trump said in his first tweet of the year.
This is the strongest attack that has come from the US president.
His remarks came days after the New York Times reported that the US is considering withholding $225 million in aid to Pakistan reflecting its dissatisfaction with the latter’s reluctance in the war against terrorism.
In November, the US had strongly condemned release of the Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed by Pakistan and had demanded his immediate re-arrest and prosecution, warning that there would be ‘repercussions’ for bilateral ties if Islamabad fails to take ‘decisive action’ against the Jamat-ud-Dawah chief.
Saeed, who carries a $10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities, walked free after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case.
In his new South Asia Policy in August, Trump had called for tougher measure against Pakistan if it fails to cooperate with the US in its fight against terrorism.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists,” Trump had said in his South Asia Policy speech.
Noting that in the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner, Trump had accused it of providing shelter to the same organisations that try every single day to kill Americans.
“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately,” Trump had said.
“No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target US service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace,” he had said.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied that there are any terrorist safe havens inside its territory.
Both its officials in Islamabad and inside the United Nations in New York assert that there are no terrorist safe havens.
However, the top American leadership insists that there has been no change in Pakistani behaviour on this front that that it is fast running out of patience.
In December, the Pentagon warned Pakistan of unilateral action if Islamabad did not act.
In a surprise visit to Afghanistan before Christmas, US Vice President Mike Pence had issued a stern warning to Pakistan, for which using non-state actors against its two neighbours — India and Afghanistan — has been part of its national security policy.
“For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organisations, but those days are over,” Pence told American troops at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan where he made an unannounced trip on December 21.
“President Trump has put Pakistan on notice,” he had said.
Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the US Hamdullah Mohib welcomed Trump’s tweet.
‘A promising message to Afghans who have suffered at the hands of terrorists based in Pakistan for far too long,’ Mohib tweeted.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted, ‘We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly inshallah…Will let the world know the truth..difference between facts & fiction.’