Syed Zafar Mehdi

Pakistan-U.S. ties hit new low as Pentagon suspends $1.66 bn security aid to Islamabad

November 21, 2018

TEHRAN - The relations between former allies United States and Pakistan continue to nosedive with many skeletons tumbling out of the cupboard. Barely two days after U.S. President Donald Trump launched a vicious tirade against Pakistan for 'not doing a damn thing' for his country, which evoked angry reactions in Pakistan, his administration suspended the $1.66 billion security assistance to Islamabad on Wednesday.

“USD 1.66 billion of security assistance to Pakistan is suspended,” Col Rob Manning, spokesman of the U.S. Department of Defense, was quoted saying in media. With this announcement, the already fractured ties between the two countries are likely to get worse, fear experts.

On November 19, in an interview with Fox News, Trump launched a no-holds-barred attack on Pakistan for not doing enough to dismantle terror pads on its soil. He referred to the killing of former al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad, alleging that Pakistan did not provide them information about it.

Trump later took to Twitter to claim in his characteristic hyperbolic manner that Pakistan never told the U.S. that Osama was hiding there. “Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!”

Trump said Pakistan was just another country which took money from the U.S. and did nothing. “We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!” he tweeted.

Rebutting his claim, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said it was Pakistan's intelligence that provided the initial evidence to trace the whereabouts of Osama.
She summoned the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Paul Jones to the Foreign Office on Tuesday and registered a strong protest on what she termed were “unwarranted and unsubstantiated” allegations against Pakistan by Trump.

“Conveying her government’s disappointment on the recent tweets and comments by the U.S. president, the U.S. CdA was told that such baseless rhetoric about Pakistan was totally unacceptable,” the office of the foreign secretary said in a statement.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is known for his strong stance against U.S. policies, reacted sharply to Trump, saying that few allies have sacrificed or helped the U.S. as much as Pakistan in its war on terror.

“Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 1,40,000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before,” Khan tweeted.

The Pakistan PM further said the country had borne the brunt of the U.S.’ war on terror. “No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pakistan decided to participate in U.S. war on terror. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war and over $123 bn was lost to the economy,” he said.

Earlier Shireen Mazari, the firebrand Pakistani minister, had locked horns with Trump on Twitter, lambasting him for his remarks and saying that the policy of appeasement doesn't work with the U.S. She termed it as a lesson for Pakistani politicians.

The tension between the two nations gained momentum in August last year when Trump while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy, lashed out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos".

In September, the U.S. said it would cancel $300 million in military aid to Pakistan over its inaction to crackdown against terrorists, which was in addition to another $500 million aid that was withdrawn earlier this year at the behest of the U.S. Congress.
 

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