WASHINGTON — Pakistan’s National Security Committee declared after meeting today that President Trump’s tweet about their contributions in the war on terror didn’t recognize “the huge sacrifices made by Pakistan, including the loss of tens of thousands of lives” and these “could not be trivialized so heartlessly by pushing all of it behind a monetary value – and that too an imagined one.”
The NSC further called Trump’s comments “completely incomprehensible as they contradicted facts manifestly,” adding they “struck with great insensitivity at the trust between two nations built over generations.”
Trump’s first tweet of 2018 said, “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!”
“We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly inshallah…Will let the world know the truth..difference between facts & fiction..,” Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif tweeted in response.
Asif followed up today: “Pres Trump quoted figure of $33billion given to PAK over last 15yrs,he can hire a US based Audit firm on our expense to verify this figure & let the world know who is lying & deceiving..”
Afghanistan, though, was happy with the Trump Twitter condemnation of their neighbor. “As the U.S. aid and international support to Pakistan to fight terrorism has not given any result, so there is a need for more steps, such steps that could help in achieving the goals against terrorism,” a spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah told Radio Azadi.
Former President Hamid Karzai tweeted, “President @realDonaldTrump tweet on Pakistan’s duplicitous position over the past 15 years is vindication that the war on terror is not in bombing Afghan villages and homes but in the sanctuaries beyond Afghanistan. I welcome today’s clarity in President Trump’s remarks and propose a joint US – regional coalition to pressurise the Pakistan military establishment to bring peace to not just Afghanistan but the entire region.”
Pakistan’s National Security Committee, which includes Asif, said they’ve been fighting back terrorist incursions from Afghanistan across the porous border, and added they shouldn’t be responsible for Afghanistan’s “collective failure.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked today what precipitated Trump’s Twitter threat to withhold future U.S. aid. “We know that Pakistan can do more to fight terrorism and we want them to step up and do that,” she said.
“Look, this is something that the president has been following and has talked about, again, back during August when he laid out his Afghanistan and South Asia strategy. And this is something that the administration continues to watch on the daily basis… and the president receives daily updates and briefings and I can’t go into any further detail beyond that,” Sanders said.
At the State Department, press secretary Heather Nauert called Pakistan “an important partner.”
“We have a lot of issues in that region. Pakistan knows that. We all know that. And we, you know, try to work carefully together on some of those issues. But Pakistan — you know, I don’t want to say that Pakistan can do more, but Pakistan knows what it needs to do,” Nauert said, adding Islamabad can “earn, essentially, the money that we have provided in the past in foreign military assistance — they need to show that they are sincere in their efforts to crack down on terrorists.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has backed a block on $255 million in military aid to Pakistan, was especially happy with Trump’s tweet and plans to introduce new legislation “in the coming days to stop aid to Pakistan.”
“I cannot in good conscience look away as America crumbles at home, and politicians tax us to send the money to corrupt and duplicitous regimes abroad,” Paul said in a statement. “I wholeheartedly agree with President Trump on this. The U.S. has given $34 billion in direct aid and military reimbursements to Pakistan since 2002.”