Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday reacted sharply to President Donald Trump's latest tirade against Islamabad for not doing "a damn thing" for America in curbing terrorism, saying the US, instead of making Pakistan a "scapegoat" for its failures in Afghanistan, should find out why the Taliban has emerged stronger than before.
Khan's tweets came a day after President Trump defended his administration's decision to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan for not doing enough to curb terrorism and criticised Islamabad for offering a hideout to Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad. "Record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump's tirade against Pakistan," Khan, said in a series of tweets defending his country's record in the US-led war on terror. He said that Pakistan decided to "participate in the US War on Terror" although no Pakistani was involved in the 9/11 attacks
. "Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war and over USD 123 billion was lost," he said, of which "US 'aid' was a miniscule USD 20bn", Khan said. "Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140,000 Nato troops, plus 250,000 Afghan troops and reportedly USD 1 trillion spent on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before," he suggested. In addition to economic losses, the prime minister highlighted the impact of the US war on Pakistan's tribal areas. "Our tribal areas were devastated and millions of people were uprooted from their homes. The war drastically impacted the lives of ordinary Pakistanis," he said. "Pakistan continues to provide free lines of ground and air communications...)," he added. "Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?" he asked.
Earlier, Pakistan's Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari attacked President Trump's criticism of Islamabad's dubious role in the war against terrorism. She said the US President "suffers conveniently from perpetual historic amnesia!" The minister, known to be a hawk, in a series of tweets said that whether China or Iran, US policies of "containment and isolation" do not coincide with Pakistan's strategic interests. Mazari, a close aide of Prime Minister Khan, said Trump's latest criticism of Pakistan should be a "lesson" to those Pakistani leaders who "appeased" America, especially after the 9/11 terror attacks.
"Trump's tirade against Pak & his claim that that Pak does not do 'a damn thing' for the US shd be a lesson for those Pak ldrs who kept appeasing the US esp after 9/11! The renditions; the loss of Pak lives in US WoT (war on terrorism); the free space for Raymond Davis & other operatives; etc etc," she tweeted. "The illegal killings by drone attacks; the list is endless but once again history shows appeasement does not work. Also, whether China or Iran, US policies of containment & isolation do not coincide with Pak strategic interests," Mazari said. In reply to another tweet calling out Trump over his remarks, Mazari said: "@realDonaldTrump suffers conveniently from perpetual historic amnesia!"
Referring to bin Laden and his hideout in Abbottabad, Trump in an interview to Fox News on Sunday said, "You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don't know, I've seen nicer." The compound was demolished shortly after US Naval Special Warfare Development Group forces, in a daring helicopter raid, killed bin Laden in 2011. "But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there," he added. "And we give Pakistan USD 1.3 billion a year. ... (Laden] lived in Pakistan, we're supporting Pakistan, we're giving them USD 1.3 billion a year -- which we don't give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don't do anything for us, they don't do a damn thing for us," he said.
The ties between the two countries 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 Taliban active on its soil.