January 1, 2018
ISLAMABAD — U.S. President Donald Trump is again accusing Pakistan of sheltering terrorists whom American forces are fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.
In his first Twitter message of 2018, Trump wrote, “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. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
Washington has long accused Islamabad, particularly its security institutions, of turning a blind eye or covertly helping the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network to stage cross-border attacks against Afghan and U.S.-led forces.
It is not immediately clear whether Trump is threatening to cut financial assistance to Pakistan.
The United States suggested in August it would hold up $255 million in military assistance until Pakistan cracks down on extremists.
The U.S. Congress has authorized up to $700 million in a Coalition Support Fund to reimburse Pakistan for activities carried out in support of U.S. operations in Afghanistan.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told the local Geo News television station, “We have already told the U.S. that we will not do more, so Trump’s “no more” does not hold any importance.”
The government late Monday summoned U.S. ambassador David Hale to the foreign ministry to protest and seek an explanation for Trump’s remarks, reported local media.
“I can confirm the Ambassador was asked to come to the Foreign Office tonight. He did and met with officials there. I don’t have any comment on the substance of the meeting, ” a U.S. embassy spokesman told VOA.
Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee has also been convened for Wednesday where the country’s top civilian and military leadership will discuss the situation in the aftermath Trump’s statement.
Islamabad denies allegations it is harboring Afghan insurgents and instead complains anti-state militants are using the neighboring country for terrorist attacks against Pakistan.
Trump unveiled his new South Asia policy last August, in which Pakistan was blamed for providing “safe haven” to terrorists.
American officials have also warned that if Islamabad does not take actions against terrorist havens on Pakistan soil, Washington will do so unilaterally.
The Pakistan military last week warned Washington against any unilateral military action on its soil, saying U.S. allegations of terrorist sanctuaries in the country are “unfounded” and “no more valid” because “indiscriminate” security operations have targeted all terrorist groups.
“We have paid a huge price both in blood and treasure. We have done enough and we cannot do anymore for anyone,” said the chief military spokesman, Major-General Asif Ghafoor.