Donald Trump has had a turbulent relationship with Pakistan for years. Right after becoming the US president he spoke to the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif calling him a “terrific guy” who was doing an “amazing job.”.
"Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people," Trump further added, according to a readout released by the Pakistan government.
That stance changed some six months later when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Washington in June. After that trip both India and the US pointed fingers at Pakistan saying that the latter is not doing enough to combat terrorism.
In August Trump revealed his new South Asia strategy further blaming Pakistan for “giving safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror.”
"We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists," First Post reported Trump as saying.
According to the Pakistani newspaper The Nation, the country’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif informed a Senate committee that the government had to take such a decision as a protest against Trump's comments against the country.
But the situation kept escalating and on New Year's Day, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at Pakistan once again saying, "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more."
Washington backed up Trump’s words and suspended $225 million in military aid to Pakistan, according to the First Post.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif responded to Trump's tweet in a stern manner saying, “The United States should hold its own people accountable for its failures in Afghanistan.”
He further said that the US is frustrated over its defeat in Afghanistan and it should perhaps take the path of dialogue instead of using military might.
The Minister of Defense, Khurram Dastagir, also expressed his opinion saying that Pakistan had extended unprecedented cooperation to the US in defeating al-Qaeda in Afghanistan besides fighting the war against terrorism.
He said that it is the terrorists from Afghanistan who have repeatedly targeted Pakistani armed forces and civilians. Khurram Dastagir made it clear to the US president that Afghanistan's war would not be fought from the soil of Pakistan, Dawn news reported.
Talking about the military aid claims made by the US president, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said, “The claim by Trump regarding the funds, if we account for it, they include reimbursements too for the services rendered by Pakistan.”
He said that Pakistan’s land, roads, rail and, other different kinds of services were used for which the country was reimbursed.
“A proper audit took place for the reimbursements,” the foreign minister said.
If the US carried out further drone strikes in Pakistan’s settled areas, the minister warned that, “The country will defend its sovereignty.”
Pakistani analyst Zahid Hussain said that Trump’s statements come as no surprise. "We have been seeing for a while that Trump's attitude is getting stricter, so this statement is no surprise. Pakistan has other options,” Hussain was reported by Dawn news as saying.
The analyst further said that Pakistan can sustain itself without US aid just as it had done before, during the 1990s, when it faced all sorts of sanctions from the US.
Hussain stressed that the US needs to have a better policy on Afghanistan and should focus on what to do in that country instead of blaming Pakistan.