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– US expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil
– Trump’s tweet widely welcomed in the US and beyond
– Pakistani officials continued to parrot the line that the country had made many sacrifices, lost many lives, and was not giving any safe havens to terrorists
– Pakistan also began to push back against Trump’s claim that the US had given the country $33 billion
Ties between the United States and Pakistan sank to a new low on Tuesday with the Trump administration indicating it will be withholding $255 million in foreign military financing, and possibly future aid for Islamabad, following the US President’s New Year’s Day smack down of the Islamic Republic for its repeated and public display of support to terrorists and terror groups.
White House officials conveyed to the media that the administration plans to put a lock on the money pending Pakistan demonstrably acting against terrorism in a way that furthers Trump’s South Asia Strategy. The strategy invests regional primacy on India, by far the largest country in the region, including giving it a key role in Afghanistan, a situation Pakistan resents and which it has protested against.
“The president has made clear the US expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil, and that Pakistan’s actions in support of the South Asia Strategy will ultimately determine the trajectory of our relationship, including future security assistance,” a White House National Security Council spokesman told the media.
Trump’s 4 am New Year’s Day tweet has traumatised Pakistan going by reactions from the country. Although some Pakistan shills argued it should not be taken as policy, the tweet was widely welcomed in the US and beyond, including by his son.
“Great start. Why give millions to countries who would harbor our enemies?” Donald Trump Jr responded to his father’s tweet. “I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been fighting to end aid to Pakistan for years and will again lead the charge in the Senate. Let’s make this happen,” added Republican Senator Rand Paul.
Even former Afghan President Hamid Karzai joined in excoriating a country that has caused thousands of deaths in Afghanistan of Afghans, Americans, Indians and other foreigners with its unrelenting backing of terror groups in the region.
“@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 pressurize the Pakistan military establishment to bring peace to not just Afghanistan but the entire region,” Karzai said.
But Pakistan’s military establishment and its frontmen on social media and television talk shows were aflame with angry responses, with much of the country’s elite, many with greater stakes and assets in Dubai and London than in Pakistan, quick to take umbrage.
Some of them wanted the Pakistan government to cut off US supply routes to Afghanistan and others wanted complete reassessment of ties, even as Islamabad called in the US ambassador to the foreign office to protest Trump’s tweet.
Pakistani officials also continued to parrot the line that the country had made many sacrifices, lost many lives, and was not giving any safe havens to terrorists, even though the country’s establishment, including its former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, continue to consort with the UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed.
Pakistan also began to push back against Trump’s claim that the US had given the country $33 billion, arguing that almost half of it was reimbursements in the form of Coalition Support Funds (CSF) for services rendered by Pakistan, including transport logistics. Many Pakistani talking heads, who believe the CSF is the country’s birthright, also argued that much of the American aid went back to the US in form of consultancy fees etc.
But the bravado was ruthlessly called out by some of the more practical commentators on TV, who pointed out the US still had plenty of leverage on Pakistan, including on its generals and politicians whose families were safely ensconced in US and UK “The first thing Washington should do is load up a plane full of children and families of Pakistani generals and politicians in the US. and ship them back to Pakistan. Let’s see how many of them will join the movement for self-respect that makes demands only of Pakistan’s poor,” taunted Rauf Klasra, among the more outspoken Pakistani commentators.
The country’s political and military establishment however breathed fire, expressing confidence that the key supply route it held to Afghanistan via Pakistan and the country’s closeness to China, which put out a broad statement supporting Islamabad, would inhibit the Trump administration from taking any precipitate action.
But some lawmakers on the US side too are champing at the bit, wanting to use even greater leverage, including Washington’s influence among its allies and in multilateral institutions, to bring Pakistan to heel.
“@realdonaldtrump recognizes Pakistan for what it is-a Benedict Arnold ally. If Pakistan does not stop aiding terrorists, we must cut all aid to Islamabad, revoke their privileged status as a Major Non-NATO ally, & designate Pakistan as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” tweeted Texas Congressman Ted Poe, hours after Trump’s Tweet had traumatized Pakistan.
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