"No More!": Trump Says US Got Only "Lies" From Pak For Billions In Aid

The much harsher language in US President Donald Trump's early morning tweet on Monday - his first of the year - suggests an end to the debate within his administration and the decision to deliver on his threat to punish Islamabad for failing to cooperate on counterterrorism.

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Pakistan gives safe haven to terrorists the US hunts in Afghanistan, Donald Trump said

WASHINGTON: 

Highlights

  1. Donald Trump uses harsh language against Pakistan
  2. He may deliver on his threat to punish Islamabad
  3. US-Pakistan ties have taken a nosedive under Mr Trump
US President Donald Trump ripped into Pakistan on Monday, declaring on Twitter that American governments had over the last 15 years "foolishly" given 33 billion dollars in aid to Islamabad that gave "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan".

"No more!" the US President tweeted, days after he singled out Pakistan for criticism in announcing his national security strategy last month. "We make massive payments every year to Pakistan... They have to help," he had said at the launch of the security strategy just a few days earlier.

The much harsher language in Donald Trump's early morning tweet on Monday - his first of the year - suggests an early end to the debate within his administration on delivering on his threat to punish Islamabad for failing to cooperate on counterterrorism. He hasn't, however, committed his administration to any specific cuts. For now.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif delivered his response minutes later.

"We will respond to President Trump's tweet shortly inshallah...Will let the world know the truth... difference between facts and fiction," Mr Asif said.

Vivvek Katju, former Ambassador to Afghanistan, interpreted Donald Trump's tweet as "a reflection of his frustration and impatience".

Hoping for more consistency in the US administration's approach to Pakistan in future, Mr Katju told NDTV the Americans must blame themselves.

Rather than applying consistent and increasing pressure, the Trump administration had more or less adopted the policy of old US administration in going backwards and forwards and giving Pakistan rope. "And Pakistan is a master at playing the Americans," he said.
 
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US-Pakistani ties have chilled steadily under Donald Trump.

The tweet comes against the backdrop of reports that the United States was considering withholding $255 million in already delayed aid to Pakistan for its failure to crack down on terror groups in Pakistan.

This amount is left over from $1.1 billion aid earmarked for Pakistan in 2016, and which included non-military aid as well.

US-Pakistani ties have chilled steadily under Mr Trump, who in August declared that "Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror".

The possible symbolic cutoff in American aid is seen as a signal of the Trump administration's willingness to carry out the many threats and warnings that have been hurled at Pakistan but leave enough elbowroom to negotiate with Pakistan.

"Certainly just by withholding aid, the Pakistanis won't relent," Mr Katju told NDTV. "If Trump wants to bring Pakistan to heel, he will have to apply far greater pressure," he added.

Mr Trump had earlier warned that Pakistan's support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network would have consequences, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had spelled these out.

"We have some leverage," Mr Tillerson had told reporters, as he fleshed out Mr Trump's speech, "in terms of aid, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner - all of that can be put on the table."
As one of 16 "Non-NATO Major Allies," Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in aid and has access to some advanced US military technology banned from other countries.

In 2017, the US already withheld $350 million in military funding over concerns Pakistan is not doing enough to fight terror, but the alliance itself was not in question.

(With inputs from agencies)

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