12:21 GMT +319 December 2018
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    U.S. President Donald Trump walks through the Colonnade to the Oval Office after returning to the White House in Washington

    Trump's Pakistan Rhetoric ‘Couldn't Have Come At a Worse Time'

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    US President Donald Trump's verbal attack on Pakistan is a setback for Washington as it attempts to find a way out of Afghanistan, Marvin Weinbaum, director of the Middle East Institute's Center for Pakistan and Afghanistan Studies, told Sputnik.

    Over the weekend, in an interview with Fox News, Trump defended his administration's decision to cut off US military aid to Pakistan, saying the country hasn't done a "damn thing" for Washington. POTUS also suggested that Pakistan had assisted in sheltering Osama bin Laden.

    Those remarks were also echoed on social media, with Trump tweeting to his 55.8 million followers that "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."

    ​Weinbaum told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Tuesday that Trump's comments "couldn't have come a worse time," considering the US is trying leave Afghanistan.

    "Here is the United States desperately trying to find some way out of Afghanistan through arranging a political settlement, whose odds are not good," Weinbaum told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. "It's hard to imagine that you can arrange this kind of political outcome without Pakistan."

    "This is a time when we have to be doing everything we can to make sure, assuming there can be progress toward a peaceful settlement, that Pakistan is on board for this. This kind of exchange sets that back… it means that we're more likely to see Pakistan play hardball with the United States, where it's not going to take some risks that it would [have]," he added.

    As one would imagine, Pakistani officials didn't take too kindly to Trump's words. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan responded in a series of tweets, writing that the "record needs to be put straight on Mr. Trump's tirade against Pakistan."

    "1. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak[istan] decided to participate in US War on Terror. 2. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war and over $123 [billion] was lost to the economy. US ‘aid' was a minuscule $20 [billion]," he wrote, adding that the war devastated the country's tribal lands and uprooted millions of citizens from their homes.

    Khan also made note of how the US has turned Pakistan into a "scapegoat" for its own failures in Afghanistan, despite Pakistan continually providing free lines for ground and air communication.

    ​"Trump's false assertions add insult to the injury Pak[istan] has suffered in US [War on Terror] in terms of lives lost & destabilised & economic costs. He needs to be informed [about] historical facts. Pak[istan] has suffered enough fighting US's war. Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests," he concluded.

    Weinbaum told Kiriakou that Trump's comments weren't part of a strategic move, rather something that just came "off the top of his head." And while the US may want out of Afghanistan, the scholar stressed that it can't simply part ways with the region.

    "The question is: how are we going to be in the region… we have to be around on terms that the region finds acceptable," he said.

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    Tags:
    War on Terror, Imran Khan, Donald Trump, Pakistan, United States
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