By Mahak Paliwal
The first tweet of 2018 from Donald Trump was aimed towards Pakistan and Iran. He tweeted, “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!”
The official declaration was made by Heather Nauert, the State Department spokesperson. She announced, “Today we can confirm that we are suspending security assistance only to Pakistan at this time. Until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani group…the United States will suspend that type of security assistance to Pakistan,” she said. The statement clearly exhibits the worsening relations between the two countries and the former rift between the two which eventually led to the September 2001 terrorist attack.
The ties between the two countries have deteriorated since 2011, after the American army killed Osama bin Laden in its confidential military operation. In lieu of its “fight-to-win” program, the United States of America directed Islamabad to stop any sort of aid to militants at the Afghan border and alerted Pakistan saying it would have “much to lose” if any step was taken otherwise. In an announcement which dealt with the South Asian policy, Trump denied any kind of association with the countries that have sheltered militants who distorted U.S. officials. Recently, in the month of December, Pakistan had patently attacked the US in the United Nations when it voted against recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel instead of Trump’s crystal clear warning. Trump distinctly stated that he would pull out aid from the countries who would vote against the US.
US officials claim that Pakistan has harboured terrorist groups like Taliban and Haqqani, who not only took away the lives of 2000 Americans but also utilised the resources provided by the US for approximately 16 years. Ryan Crocker, the former US ambassador to Pakistan said, “Pakistan has gone from our most allied of allies to our most sanctioned of sanctioned.”
This adjournment will lead to the denial of approximately $1.1 billion provided by the US to Pakistan as part of Coalition Support Funds to fight terrorism. Earlier, it had stopped funding of $255 million in State Department military financing. President Trump has openly voiced “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 reacted rashly to the decision of suspending the security assistance. The country has labelled the move as arbitrary and unilateral, along with being inadequate in dealing with the threat of terrorism. The officials have emphasised on appreciating the efforts that have been put up by the Pakistan government in last 15 years for combating terrorism. The country alone has spent $120 billion (Rupees 7.6 lakh crore) to fight terrorism. “We are determined to continue to do all it takes to secure the lives of our citizens and broader stability in the region,” a foreign official said.
Within hours of Trump’s tweet, the streets of Karachi were filled with protesters pointing anger at the tweet. The dissenters were not only seen burning Trump’s image and flags of the US but also shouting anti-American slogans. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khawaja Asif tweeted, “We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly Inshallah…Will let the world know the truth…difference between facts & fiction.” Allegedly, the Defense Minister Mr Khurram Dastagir said, “…no doubt or fear as the defense of Pakistan is incompetent and strong hands.” “Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to the US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs, but they have given us nothing but invective & mistrust. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis.”
The concerned authorities have spoken of making public every detail or account of the aid provided by America. The funds provided to Pakistan by America for taking measures for counter-terrorism are contended to have been properly audited by appropriate authorities and utilised in rendering services. The officials have clearly refused to compromise on the aspects of self-esteem and dignity.
Domestic instability in Pakistan
Pakistan has expressed deep “disapproval” and “dismay” over Trump’s tweet. The repercussions of this move seem untraceable. In response to Trump’s statement, an emergency meeting was held by the Prime Minister in the country wherein he invited all the top level officials of the National Security Committee (NSC). The army chief, heads of air and naval staff along with the ministers and chiefs of intelligence were part of the meeting conducted to discuss the tweet and the future course of action that needs to be undertaken. Expressing its dismay, the NSC stated that the tweets by the U. S President Trump “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“.
Michael Kugelman, an analyst says, “This puts the relationship on a collision course. I don’t expect a full rupture in ties, as each side benefits from some semblance of a workable relationship, but there will be dark days ahead.” Similarly, Zahid Hussain, an analyst of security told Al Jazeera that such a statement from Trump’s account was no surprise. He added, “We have seen that relations between Washington and Islamabad have been strained for some time and they are increasingly becoming hostile.” Gradually, if Pakistan is pressured too much, the country might also refuse aid to both US and Afghanistan, in terms of providing them with the soil for its militants and other supplies. On the other hand, Pakistan may be found proceeding in the direction of appeasing and pacifying the US and regaining its economic and military assistance by formulating better strategies to deal with counter-terrorism activities. The move might also affect the ties between America and China as the former has already echoed its support to Pakistan. The spokesperson of China’s foreign ministry said, “Pakistan has made… an outstanding contribution to the global cause of counter-terrorism. The international community should acknowledge that.” He added Pakistan and China are “all-weather partners.”
Relations between the two countries
When talking of Pakistan in terms of the efforts taken to fight against terrorism and ensure stability in the South Asian region, the contribution of the US cannot be denied, considering the amount of aid it has provided to Pakistan and the pressure it has imposed for suitable steps to be taken.
However, amidst the growing debate, it will be interesting to see if the countries come forward to negotiate, or the war of words causes irreparable harm to relations between both the countries, not only at a national but also at an international level.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius