Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Pakistan can survive without taking financial assistance from US: Khawaja Asif

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and US President Donald Trump Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and US President Donald Trump
Steve Townsend | 07 January, 2018, 00:58

Reports from Washington said the U.S. administration was following up on Trump's outburst by cancelling $255 million in aid to Pakistan.

The U.S. pressure campaign sparked massive protests across Pakistan, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale was summoned by the Foreign Ministry to explain the president tweet. The Islamabad government held an emergency meeting and officials fired back on Twitter.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Wilson Center's South Asia program, said suspension of US security assistance to Pakistan would not torpedo relations but it was a significant step backward.

The statement said "blaming allies certainly does not serve the shared objective of achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region". Changing the USA relationship with Pakistan is a pillar of Trump's strategy for the region, announced in August.

Pakistan has criticized and noted with "deep disappointment" charges contained in a New Year tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump and said Islamabad could not be held responsible for the "collective failure" in Afghanistan.

The Trump administration will continue to "review Pakistan's level of cooperation", the official said.

The administration first started a "temporary withholding" of the funds, part of a $1.1 billion aid package authorized in 2016 by Congress, in August.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday said that Pakistan can survive without taking aid from the United States as it survived in the past [when USA had suspended assistance to Pakistan].

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"America is frustrated over defeat in Afghanistan".

Asif added that all financial aid from the United States had been "properly audited" and that "services [were] rendered". "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help".

Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan's ambassador in Washington, said in a tweet on Monday that Trump's tweet was a "promising message to Afghans who have suffered at the hands of terrorists based in Pakistan for far too long".

"[Trump's tweet] is a positive message for us, should USA pressure on Pakistan increase", Mohib added.

Thousands of USA and coalition forces in Afghanistan still rely mostly on ground and air routes through neighboring Pakistan for receiving vital supplies. But longtime ally China on Tuesday defended Islamabad and called on the worldwide community to "fully acknowledge" Pakistani counterterrorism efforts.

"The global community should fully recognize this", he added.

As part of the "fight-to-win" strategy Trump called on Islamabad to cut support for militants who find a haven along the Afghan border and warned Pakistan would have "much to lose" if it did not comply.

The bilateral relations have faced multiple crises over the years over US charges Pakistan was not doing enough to curb Islamist terrorism fueling the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan complains Washington does not appreciate its efforts or the strains the global war on terror have placed on the country.

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