Washington: US President Donald Trump has repeated that the $1.3 billion in aid to Pakistan will remain suspended until the latter acts against militant safe havens inside its territory.
The President’s statement came days after he said that Pakistan does not do “a damn thing” for the US, alleging that its government had helped al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden hide near its garrison city of Abbottabad.
“I want Pakistan to help us. We’re no longer paying $1.3 billion to Pakistan. We’re paying them nothing because that’s what they’ve done to help us. Nothing,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday before leaving for his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for the Thanksgiving holidays. Over the last few days, Trump has accused Pakistan of not helping the US in its fight against terrorism.
In an interview to Fox News, Trump said that people in Pakistan knew that Laden was living in a mansion near their garrison city of Abbottabad, but they did not tell the US and kept on accepting billions of dollars in aid.
“And I cut those payments off a long time ago. We’re not paying Pakistan any money because they’re not helping us at all and we’ll see where it all goes,” Trump said. Early this year, Trump announced to stop all security assistance to Pakistan.
“I hope to have a good relationship with Pakistan,” said Trump, indicating that the relationship between the two countries can come back on track if Pakistan took action against terrorist groups and their safe havens.
“But right now, we’re paying Pakistan nothing. I cut them off. They were getting $1.3 billion a year. They’re not getting anything now,” Trump asserted.
However, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, said Trump might be incorrect in saying that Pakistan has not done anything for the US. Over the decades, Pakistan has helped the United States with some of its policy objectives, he said.
“He is right in noting that Pakistan has offered tactical cooperation in return for aid while at the same time undermined the strategic US objectives,” Haqqani told PTI. Pakistani leaders, he said, are being disingenuous in describing the US as “ungrateful”.
Americans have provided over $43 billion in military and economic assistance since 1954, helped build Pakistan’s conventional military capability, and bailed Pakistan out of both economic and political crises on several occasions, he said.
Haqqani, who is the director for South and Central Asia at the prestigious Hudson Institute think-tank in Washington DC, said Islamabad would continue to be tempted to go back to old transactional patterns, but not Washington.
“It is the Americans who are likely to be less interested in returning to what I describe in my book on the subject as ‘Magnificent Delusions.’ Not only do Pakistan’s ambitions in Afghanistan conflict with the US plans but the two countries strongly disagree about China’s expanding influence in Asia,” he said.
Observing that only a strategic rethink on the part of Pakistan can lead to a reset in US-Pakistan ties, Haqqani said until then, occasional twitter spats and “we paid a heavy price for being your ally” statements will continue to characterise the unusual relationship.
Ties between the US and Pakistan strained after Trump, while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in August last year, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists.
In September, the Trump administration cancelled USD 300 million in military aid to Islamabad for not doing enough against terror groups like the Haqqani Network and the Taliban active on its soil.
(With inputs from PTI)