Pakistani officials strongly rebuked U.S. President Donald Trump for accusing the country of providing a "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan" and threatening to cut off U.S. aid.
"Trump is disappointed at the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan and that is the only reason he is flinging accusations at Pakistan."
—Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told the Pakistani television network Geo on Monday that "Trump is disappointed at the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan and that is the only reason he is flinging accusations at Pakistan."
"We have already told the U.S. that we will not do more, so Trump's 'no more' does not hold any importance," Asif said, adding that "Pakistan is ready to publicly provide every detail of the U.S. aid that it has received."
In his first tweet of the year, Trump said that Pakistan has "given us nothing but lies & deceit" while the United States has continued to provide aid to the country:
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
Al Jazeera broke down U.S. aid to Pakistan since the War on Terror began: "Since 2001, the U.S. has appropriated $33 billion to Pakistan, according to official U.S. figures, sourced from the Congressional Research Service. As such, total U.S. aid allocated to Pakistan—both civilian and military—since 2001 is $19.354 billion. Total aid actually disbursed during that period stands at $14.788 billion, according to USAID figures."
Major General Asif Ghafoor, a spokesman for the Pakistani Army, added that U.S. aid to Pakistan has been "reimbursement for support Islamabad gave to the coalition for its fight against Al Qaeda."
Khurram Dastagir, Pakistan's defense minister, accused the United States of giving Pakistan "nothing but invective & mistrust" while Pakistan has provided the U.S. with intelligence and military assistance:
Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs, but they have given us nothing but invective & mistrust. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis.— Pak Minister Defence (@PakMnstrDefence) January 1, 2018
Shortly after Trump tweeted on Monday, the Pakistan Foreign Office summoned U.S. Ambassador David Hale to explain the president's comments, according to the Pakistani government's official Twitter account and a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
Several news outlets report that Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will hold a cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss Trump's threats and accusations, and another meeting with his National Security Committee (NSC)—which includes leaders of the army, navy, and air force, as well as intelligence chiefs and other ministers—to discuss "deteriorating U.S. ties."
Zahid Hussain, a security analyst based in Islamabad, told Al Jazeera that Trump's "crude" message does not come as a surprise because "we have seen that relations between Washington and Islamabad have been strained for some time and they are increasingly becoming hostile."
Hussain added that Trump's comments demonstrate "U.S. frustration at not achieving any stability in Afghanistan after more than 16 years of conflict."
The heated remarks follow a New York Times report on Friday that the U.S. might continue withholding $255 million in aid to Pakistan.
The Trump administration had announced in August that it was witholding the money "until Pakistan did more to crack down on internal terrorist groups," and senior administration officials reportedly met in December to make a decision about what to do with the aid. Anonymous officials told the Times "a final decision could be made in the coming weeks."