Donald Trump opened the new year with a tweeted accusation that Pakistan “gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror” and has repaid USA aid with “lies and deceit”. Nauert said that despite sustained high-level engagement with Pakistan’s government, “the Taliban and Haqqani network continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilize Afghanistan and attack USA and allied personnel”. Any incursion of the USA forces on the pretext of hot pursuit of the Taliban insurgents into Pakistan or use of drone strikes in the mainland would have disastrous consequences for the entire region.
After Trump’s statement, Pakistan had called a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on Tuesday which expressed “disappointment” over the statement, but said the country would not act in haste.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is considering withholding $255 million from a fund meant to provide military training and equipment to Pakistan, adding to already existing cuts on reimbursements.
Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad who has emerged as one of the vocal critic of Pakistan and has accused it of being a state sponsor of terrorism made the remarks ahead of the announcement of White House actions to pressurise Pakistan.
Ambassador David Hale was asked to go to the foreign ministry in the Pakistani capital on Monday night, after Islamabad responded angrily to the United States president’s allegations that it provided safe havens for militants, in the latest spat to rock their alliance.
The State Department’s declaration signalled growing frustration over Pakistan’s co-operation in fighting terrorist networks. “We know that Pakistan can do more to fight terrorism, and we want them to step up and do that”, she added. “No more!” he tweeted.
Alyssa Ayres, senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations believes that Pakistan is “actively choosing” to not acting against the Haqqani Network.
Talking to Geo News, Asif elaborated that it is not the first time [when USA has threatened to suspend the financial assistance to Pakistan]. “Past U.S. withholding of assistance has been matched by declines in cooperation and U.S. -Pakistan relations”.
Relations between the USA and Pakistan have deteriorated rapidly since Trump took over, and the president appears not to be too concerned.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told the Pakistani television network Geo on Monday that “Trump is disappointed at the USA defeat in Afghanistan and that is the only reason he is flinging accusations at Pakistan”.
Pakistan has received over $33 billion in overt aid – a mix of economic and security-related assistance from the United States since 2002, when America invaded Afghanistan to get rid of the Taliban regime sheltering al Qaeda, the outfit responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks. He said Pakistan could fall back on Saudi Arabia and China for military supplies, but it still depends on the US for certain types of high-end equipment.
But then, US Vice President Mike Pence – in his unannounced, December 22 visit to Afghanistan – had issued an apparent warning to Pakistan, saying it “has much to gain from partnering with our efforts in Afghanistan”.
Holding up Pakistani flags, the protesters shouted anti-US slogans.