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Foreign and Defense Ministers react sharply

Pakistan has reacted sharply to US President Donald Trump’s comments on Washington providing $ 33 billion in aid over last 15 years “foolishly” against “lies and deceit”. Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif and Defense Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan have asserted to safeguard Pakistan’s sovereignty.

On Monday, the first day of the year, US President Donald Trump had posted a tweet saying, “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. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Reacting to the Trump’s move, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif met with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to discuss the situation. What transpired among the two was clearly indicated during a TV interview in the evening. Khwaja Asif  said Pakistan had already done enough. “We have already said no more [to the Americans] so Trump’s no more is of no importance now,” he said.

“We are ready to publicly provide details of the US aid that has been received by the country,” said the minister. He claimed that Mr Trump was disappointed with the US defeat in Afghanistan and was “accusing Pakistan in retaliation”.

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 further said, “Our land, roads, rail and, other different kinds of services were used for which we were reimbursed. A proper audit took place for the reimbursements.”  He asked the US to hold accountable those who failed in Afghanistan. He emphasised that only Afghanistan’s neighbours can find a peaceful solution for regional peace and security.

Responding to a question about the possible reaction if the US carried out drone strikes in Pakistan’s settled areas, he said: “The country will defend its sovereignty”. He said the foreign policy is dictated only by the national interest.

Pakistan’s top diplomat suggested that Washington should negotiate with Taliban in Afghanistan instead of using the armed forces.

US had earlier suggested Qatar to open Taliban representative office in Doha to facilitate to hold dialogue among various political factions and terror group for resolving the Afghanistan crisis. This was revealed by Qatari officials after the recent crisis erupted with Saudi-led quartet.

Meanwhile Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan has also posted a separate tweet saying: “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.”

In another tweet Khan said.

A senior military official, while talking to Dawn, recalled that the Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) chief during his press conference on Dec 28 had said, “we are receiving threats but once it comes to Pakistan we all are one. No more do more for anyone. We fought two imposed wars”.

Earlier in August, Pakistan had cancelled its foreign minister’s visit to Washington after Trump had announced new Asia policy asking Islamabad to “do more” to destroy safe havens for terrorists. A US dignitary was also suggested to postpone her Islamabad visit around that time.

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