ISLAMABAD – Pakistan is ‘deeply disappointed’ at the allegations levelled against Pakistan by the US president, the country’s top civilian and military leadership have expressed while showing patience over Donald Trump’s latest outrageous tweet.
Participants of the seventeenth meeting of the National Security Committee on Tuesday decided not to take measures in haste in reply to Trump accusations that were “completely incomprehensible as they contradicted facts manifestly, struck with great insensitivity at the trust between [the] two nations built over generations, and negated the decades of sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation”, an official handout said.
The high-level huddle, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, came a day after Trump indirectly threatened to cut Pakistan’s aid.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump said in the early-morning New Year’s Day tweet, prompting Islamabad to take serious note. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
The meeting observed that Pakistan has fought the war against terrorism primarily using its own resources and at a great cost to its economy.
“… even more importantly the huge sacrifices made by Pakistan, including the loss of tens of thousands of lives … could not be trivialised so heartlessly by pushing all of it behind a monetary value – and that too an imagined one,” a press release issued after the meeting in Islamabad said.
‘Cannot act in haste’
The NSC participants reached the consensus that Pakistan “cannot act in haste” and despite all the allegations will remain committed to playing a constructive role towards an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
Referring to the international coalition operating in Afghanistan, the Pakistani leadership stated that the country, even today, is helping the coalition. The committee further said Pakistan’s anti-terrorism operations have wiped out al-Qaeda from the region.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Zubair Mehmood Hayat, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Adviser to PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail, National Security Adviser (NSA) Nasser Khan Janjua, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, and senior civil and military officials attended the meeting.
Corps Commanders Conference
Shortly before the meeting commenced, the military had finalised its suggestions for Pakistan’s response to Trump’s allegations in a Corps Commanders’ Conference held at General Headquarters.
A meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security has also been called on January 5 to discuss the US’s allegations.
On Monday, Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned US Ambassador David Hale to record a protest over Trump’s tweet.
Following the NSC meeting, Foreign Minister Asif offered that Trump could hire a US-based audit firm “on our expense” to verify the $33 billion aid figure and “let the world know who is lying & deceiving”.
We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly inshallah…Will let the world know the truth..difference between facts & fiction..
— Khawaja M. Asif (@KhawajaMAsif) January 1, 2018
The US president’s tweet had come at a time when relations between Washington and Islamabad have been worsening since Trump announced his administration’s latest national security strategy.
During the announcement, the US president had been quick to remind Pakistan of its ‘obligation’ to help America “because it receives massive payments” from Washington every year.
“We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help,” Trump had said.
A Pentagon report to the US Congress, released to the media on Dec 17, had said Washington would also take ‘unilateral steps’ in areas of divergence with Pakistan while expanding cooperation between the two countries where their interests converge.
Subsequently, US Vice President Mike Pence had, in a surprise visit to Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase on Dec 22, warned that Trump has “put Pakistan on notice”.
Reports suggest Trump administration was also considering withholding $255 million from a fund meant to provide military training and equipment to Pakistan, adding to already existing cuts on reimbursements.