U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of being a safe haven for extremists.
In his first tweet of 2018, Trump said on January 1 that 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.”
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he added.
Pakistani Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said in a tweet that Islamabad “as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs, but [the United States has] given us nothing but invective & mistrust.”
Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif told Pakistan’s Urdu-language Geo Television that “the United States should hold its own people accountable for its failures in Afghanistan.”
“America is frustrated over defeat in Afghanistan. America should take the path of dialogue instead of using military might in Afghanistan,” he was quoted as saying.
Asif added that all financial aid from the United States had been “properly audited” and that “services [were] rendered.”
The Afghan Ambassador to the United States 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 on January 1.
Trump and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence have in the past accused Islamabad of supporting terrorist groups that the U.S. president once called “agents of chaos.” U.S. officials have also demanded that Pakistan act against the Taliban and Haqqani network.
The frequency of suspected U.S. drone attacks near the Pakistani-Afghan border has increased notably since Trump introduced his Afghanistan strategy in August.
After a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah at the presidential palace in Kabul late on December 21, Pence had sharp words for Islamabad, saying that while Pakistan had much to gain from working with the United States, it also has much to lose by harboring “criminals and terrorists.”
“President Trump has put Pakistan on notice,” Pence said at the time.