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US President Donald Trump ripped into Pakistan on Monday, declaring on Twitter that American governments had over the last 15 years “foolishly” given 33 billion dollars in aid to Islamabad that gave “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan”.
“No more!” the US President tweeted, days after he had singled out Pakistan for criticism in announcing his national security strategy last month. “We make massive payments every year to Pakistan… They have to help,” he had said at the launch of the security strategy just a few days earlier.
The use of a much harsher language in Donald Trump’s tweet on Monday suggests an end to the debate within his administration and the decision to deliver on his threat to punish Islamabad for failing to cooperate on counterterrorism. For now.
“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!” he tweeted.
The tweet comes against the backdrop of reports that the United States was considering withholding USD 255 million in already delayed aid to Pakistan for its failure to crack down on terror groups in Pakistan.
This amount is left over from $1.1 billion aid earmarked for Pakistan in 2016, and which included non-military aid as well.
US-Pakistani ties have chilled steadily under Mr Trump, who in August declared that “Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror”.
The symbolic cutoff in American aid is seen as a strong signal of the Trump administration’s willingness to carry out the many threats and warnings that have been hurled at Pakistan but leave elbowroom to negotiate with Pakistan.
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence told American troops during a visit to Afghanistan: “President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.”
Mr Trump had warned that Pakistan’s support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network would have consequences, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had spelled these out.
“We have some leverage,” Mr Tillerson had told reporters, as he fleshed out Mr Trump’s speech, “in terms of aid, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner — all of that can be put on the table.”
As one of 16 “Non-NATO Major Allies,” Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in aid and has access to some advanced US military technology banned from other countries.
In 2017, the US already withheld $350 million in military funding over concerns Pakistan is not doing enough to fight terror, but the alliance itself was not in question.
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