Pakistan to Take 'Tough Stance' Against Trump If Aid Revoked

Toni Houston
January 7, 2018

He reiterated longstanding allegations that Pakistan gives "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan".

"We shall take all decisions in this regard taking into account our national interests", he said.

Speaking during a meeting here on Thursday of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, the Foreign Minister said the Trump administration disregarded the facts presented by Pakistan about the situation in Afghanistan.

The New York Times reported last week that the Trump administration had been considering withholding $255 million in aid to Pakistan to demonstrate its dissatisfaction with how they confront terrorism in their country.

Earlier on January 2, Pakistan and Washington traded charges over Islamabad's record on pursuing terrorists, with Pakistan criticizing a Twitter post by President Donald Trump that threatened to cut of billions of dollars in aid and accused Islamabad of "lies and deceit" and providing a safe haven for terrorists.

The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and attended by Pakistan's Foreign, Interior, and Defense ministers, as well as the chiefs of staff of the Pakistan airforce, army, and navy.

Describing Pakistan as an independent nuclear power, the defense minister said it was not possible for Washington to dictate terms to Islamabad by withholding aid, and warned the United States against any attempt to bring the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan's soil. On Tuesday, Pakistan officials summoned us ambassador David Hale to explain the USA position on Trump's tweet, a rare diplomatic move.

Trump's aid figure apparently comes from the Congressional Research Office, which says that Pakistan received nearly $34 billion from the the form of military aid and equipment between 2002 and 2018.

The administration first started a "temporary withholding" of the funds, part of a $1.1 billion aid package authorized in 2016 by Congress, in August.

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.

Foreign Minister Asif held both the United States and India responsible for the prevailing unrest in the region, saying that the "instability in the region suits both the U.S. and India". "America should take the path of dialogue instead of using military might in Afghanistan", Asif said.

The Afghan ambassador to the United States, Hamdullah Mohib, welcomed Trump's tweet.

The US carried out some 60,000 attacks from Pakistani soil, it said.

"[Trump's tweet] is a positive message for us, should USA pressure on Pakistan increase", Mohib added.

Thousands of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan still rely mostly on ground and air routes through neighboring Pakistan for receiving vital supplies. "The global community should acknowledge that", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters here on Tuesday. During a visit to a USA military base in Afghanistan last month, for example, Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump "put Pakistan on notice".

The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, David Hale, was called to meet with senior officials at the foreign ministry after Trump's tweet.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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