Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador in a rare public rebuke after Donald Trump lashed out at Islamabad with threats to cut aid over “lies and deceit” about militancy.
Pakistan’s foreign office summoned David Hale on Monday to explain the US president’s comments, according to media reports. A spokesperson for the US embassy in Islamabad confirmed the meeting took place.
In a withering attack, Trump tweeted on Monday that the US had “foolishly” handed Pakistan more than $33bn in aid in the last 15 years and had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit”.
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he wrote.
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, chaired a national security committee (NSC) meeting of civilian and military chiefs, focusing on Trump’s tweet. The discussion, which lasted nearly three hours, was brought forward by a day and followed a meeting of army generals.
In a statement issued by the prime minister’s office, the NSC did not name Trump but spoke of “deep disappointment” at the large number of critical comments made by US officials.
“Recent statements and articulation by the American leadership were completely incomprehensible as they contradicted facts manifestly, struck with great insensitivity at the trust between two nations built over generations, and negated the decades of sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation,” it said.
Relations between the US and Pakistan have been strained for years over Islamabad’s alleged support for Haqqani network militants, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban.
The US also alleges that senior Afghan Taliban commanders live in Pakistan. It has signalled it will cut aid and take other action if Islamabad does not stop helping or ignoring Haqqani militants crossing the border to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.
In 2016, the Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was killed by a US drone strike in Pakistan. Five years earlier, Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in the garrison town of Abbottabad.
Islamabad has rejected suggestions it is not doing enough in the war against militancy, saying that since 2001 it has suffered more than the US, with tens of thousands of casualties caused by Islamists.
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Khawaja Asif, dismissed Trump’s comments as a political stunt born out of frustration over US failures in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has been gaining territory and carrying out major attacks.
“He has tweeted against us [Pakistan] and Iran for his domestic consumption,” Asif told Geo TV on Monday. “He is again and again displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in a dead-end street in Afghanistan.”
He said Pakistan did not need US aid, and on Tuesday appeared to suggest Trump was lying about how much assistance Pakistan had received.
“Pres Trump quoted figure of $33billion given to PAK over last 15yrs, he can hire a US based Audit firm on our expense to verify this figure & let the world know who is lying & deceiving..,” Asif tweeted after the NSC meeting.
A US National Security Council official said on Monday the White House did not plan to send an already delayed $255m (£187m) in aid to Pakistan, adding that “the administration continues to review Pakistan’s level of cooperation”.
The Afghan defence spokesman, Gen Dawlat Waziri, said Trump had “declared the reality”, adding that “Pakistan has never helped or participated in tackling terrorism”.
Jitendra Singh, a junior minister at the Indian prime minister’s office, said Trump’s comment had vindicated India’s stance on terror ism and “Pakistan’s role in perpetrating terrorism”.
But the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, did not mention the US when asked during a briefing about Trump’s tweet.
“We have said many times that Pakistan has put forth great effort and made great sacrifices in combating terrorism,” he said. “It has made a prominent contribution to global anti-terror efforts.”
Pakistani officials say tough US measures threaten to push Pakistan further into the arms of China, which has pledged to invest $57bn in Pakistani infrastructure as part of its vast “Belt and Road” initiative.
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