07:25 GMT +323 June 2018
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    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit at the Aryana Convention Center in Danang, Vietnam, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017

    'Invective and Mistrust': Pakistan's Leaders Respond to Trump's Tweet

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    In his first message directed at a foreign nation in the new year, US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to accuse Pakistan of lies and deceit, however, Pakistani authorities have said that the US should hold its own people accountable for its failures in Afghanistan instead of blaming Pakistan.

    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.

    Back then Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the Pakistan government looked forward to working with the new US administration. He spoke to US ambassador David Hale and the two sides discussed matters of bilateral interests, particularly trade and economic relations.

    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.

    These comments were, as was expected, met with a stern reaction from Pakistan. It suspended bilateral talks and visits with the United States. 

    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.”

    “We have already said 'no more' to America, so Trump's 'no more' has no importance. We are ready to give all account for every single penny to America in public,” Asif was quoted as saying by Geo TV.

    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.

    In a separate tweet Dastagir said: “Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16 yrs, but they have given us nothing but invective & mistrust. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis.”

    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.

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    Tags:
    military aid, drone strike, foreign policy, accusations, terrorism, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Nawaz Sharif, Donald Trump, Pakistan
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