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Pakistan cites US ‘failures’ in Afghanistan after Trump snub, summons envoy

Donald Trump’s first tweet of 2018 also brought a quick and pointed rejoinder from Pakistan, which said it had done much for the United States, helping it to “decimate” al Qaeda.

world Updated: Jan 02, 2018 11:49 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabd
Donald Trump,Pakistan,Donald Trump's tweet
This file photo taken on December 18, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump speaking about his administration's National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. (AFP)

The Pakistani government and the opposition closed ranks to take on Washington after President Donald Trump’s tweet threatening to cut off all aid to Islamabad for “lies and deceit” and providing safe havens to “terrorists” from Afghanistan

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi called a meeting on Monday to deliberate how to respond after Trump’s tweet.

“The United States should hold its own people accountable for its failures in Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif said after the meeting.

“We have already said ‘no more’ to America, so Trump’s ‘no more’ has no importance. We are ready to give all account for every single penny to America in public,” he told a local TV news channel.

Asif said that America is frustrated over its “defeat” in Afghanistan but that Washington should perhaps take the path of dialogue instead of using military might.

Abbasi has called another meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on Wednesday to discuss the latest crisis in Pak-US ties.

Defence minister Khurram Dastagir said Pakistan was fully capable of defending itself. Commenting on Trump’s tweet, he said Pakistan had extended unprecedented cooperation to the US in defeating Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan besides fighting the war against terrorism. Pakistan did not have any safe haven for terrorists, he maintained.

“Instead, terrorists from Afghanistan have repeatedly targeted our armed forces and civilians,” he said.

Former foreign minister and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: “Pakistan has to move forward taking into account its own interests, irrespective of whether it gets US aid or not.” He added that Pakistan needs to look to regional powers like China, Iran, Turkey and even the European Union who understand regional situation and Pakistan’s position much better.

Although Pakistan has presented its narrative time and again, there is a lot of room for its improvement, Qureshi said. “US allies can be taken into confidence, but that is not happening.

Soon after Trump tweet, the Pakistan Foreign Office summoned US ambassador David Hale and lodged a protest, reports said. Sources said foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua sought an explanation from the ambassador.

US-Pakistani ties, long contentious, have taken a nosedive under Trump, who in August declared that “Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror”.

It was not immediately clear what prompted Trump’s fresh criticism of Pakistan but he has long complained that Islamabad was not doing enough to tackle Islamist militants. The US maintains that Pakistan must stop offering cross-border havens to Taliban factions operating in Afghanistan as well as armed jihadist groups fighting US troops and their Afghan allies.

Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s ambassador in Washington, said in a Twitter posting that Trump’s tweet was a “promising message to Afghans who have suffered at the hands of terrorists based in Pakistan for far too long”.

Islamabad has repeatedly denied the accusations of turning a blind eye to militancy, lambasting the United States for ignoring the thousands who have been killed on its soil and the billions spent fighting extremists.

Pakistan counters that it has launched military operations to push out militants from its soil and that 17,000 Pakistanis have died fighting militants or in bombings and other attacks since 2001.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Jan 02, 2018 08:22 IST