Trump's New Year tweet sends Pakistan scurrying for cover

Islamabad says no need for US aid

Donald Trump
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Following the strongly-worded tweet accusing Islamabad of "lies and deceit" from US President Donald Trump on the New Year Eve, Pakistan has rushed for an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on Wednesday, while diplomatic channels have worked against time to register their dismay.

Pakistan receives foreign aid from the Coalition Support Fund as reimbursement for facilities to the coalition forces such as the Shamsi Airfield and Dalbandin air bases by Pakistan as well as $4 billion (41,204 crore Pakistani rupees). Between 2002–2010, US Congress approved $18 billion in military and economic aid but provided $8.647 billion. US officials have accused Pakistan of diverting the aid to civilian deficits.

The meeting to be attended by Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Interior Minister, Minister for Defence, services chiefs besides, senior civil and military officers, will try to read in between the lines to understand the accusation's impact that may result in aid cut after 15 years.

Trump said the US "foolishly" gave aid to Pakistan for over 15 years despite Islamabad's betrayal by providing safe havens to "terrorists" from Afghanistan. It may be recalled that Osama bin Laden was found to have been hiding near Rawalpindi for several years before he was found and killed in a US marine operation in 2011.

While the Pakistan Foreign Office summoned US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale on Monday night and lodged its protest against US President Donald Trump's tweet and sought an explanation from the ambassador.

"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 and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!," Trump said in his unusually harsh tweet ever in diplomatic circles.

Trump also reminded Pakistan about its obligation to help the donor country for the massive payments it received over the period."We have made it clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. They have to help," he noted.

Essentially the Trump administration has joined the chorus of protests made in the past by India and Afghanistan for providing succor to Afghan Taliban rebels and terrorists, which Islamabad routinely denied.

While India is yet to react, Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan, praised President Trump saying, "Pakistan's duplicitous position over the past 15 years is vindication that the war on terror is not in bombing Afghan villages and homes but in the sanctuaries beyond Afghanistan. I welcome today's clarity in President Trump's remarks."

(With inputs from IANS)