Pakistan’s prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will meet senior ministers and officials over the next two days to discuss its response to US president Donald Trump’s remarks that America “foolishly” handed Islamabad billions of dollars in aid over the last 15 years and got “nothing but lies and deceit”.
Radio Pakistan reported that Abbasi would preside over a meeting of the federal cabinet on Tuesday, which will discuss among other things, the national security issue.
New agency Press Trust of India cited unnamed official sources as saying that Trump’s remarks would be the main point of discussion in the meeting.
The cabinet meeting will be followed by the meeting of National Security Committee (NSC) on Wednesday. Abbasi will chair the NSC meet which will review the security situation of the country and the region in detail.
The prime minister will chair the huddle to discuss the future course of action following the United States president’s scathing statement against Pakistan, a statement from Abbasi’s office said.
The meeting will be attended by foreign minister Khawaja Asif, interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, defence minister Khurram Dastgir-Khan, services chiefs and senior civil and military officers.
Trump tweeted that the US “foolishly” gave aid to Pakistan over the course of 15 years but Islamabad remained deceitful by providing safe havens to “terrorists” from Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s defence ministry fired back within hours of Trump’s comments alleging that it has got “nothing but invective and mistrust” for all the actions it took in support of America’s war against terrorism.
“Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to 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 Pakistan defence ministry tweeted.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif also met Abbasi after Trump’s accusations, a media report said.
“The meeting held a detailed review of the Trump’s statement,” the Geo TV reported citing its sources.
It said the two leaders also discussed the country’s foreign policy.
“We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly inshallah... Will let the world know the truth... difference between facts and fiction..,” Asif also tweeted.
“We have already refused to the US mantra of ‘do more’ for it (US). We have told the Trump administration that we will not do ‘no more’ for it. The ‘do more’ does not hold any importance. Pakistan is ready to publicly provide every detail of the US aid that it has received over the last 15 years,” the minister said.
Pakistan Peoples Party senator Sherry Rehman tweeted that the “coalition support funds has never been counted as AID in any accounting by Pakistan, nor will it be seen as part of assistance”.
“It was compensation on expenses incurred on joint action on border. Other ‘Aid’ we should indeed talk about, because Pakistan never charged for NATO traffic,” she said.
Trump’s strongest attack yet came days after the New York Times reported that the US is considering withholding $225 million in aid to Pakistan reflecting its dissatisfaction with the latter’s reluctance in the war against terrorism.
Last week, US vice-president Mike Pence told American troops during a visit to Afghanistan: “President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.”
PTI reported the White House has confirmed that the US has suspended its aid to Pakistan for now and said that the fate of such assistance will depend on Islamabad’s response to terrorism on its soil. The confirmation came on the same day as Trump’s tweet against Pakistan.
“The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in FY 2016 in Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan at this time,” a senior administration official told the news agency on conditions of anonymity.
“The president has made clear the US expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil, and that Pakistan’s actions in support of the South Asia Strategy will ultimately determine the trajectory of our relationship, including future security assistance,” he said.
The US administration continues to review Pakistan’s level of cooperation, the official said.
US-Pakistani ties, long contentious, have taken a nosedive under Trump, who in August declared that “Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror”.
It was not immediately clear what prompted Trump’s fresh criticism of Pakistan but he has long complained that Islamabad was not doing enough to tackle Islamist militants.
The US maintains that Pakistan must stop offering cross-border havens to Taliban factions operating in Afghanistan as well as armed jihadist groups fighting US troops and their Afghan allies.
Islamabad has repeatedly denied the accusations of turning a blind eye to militancy, lambasting the US for ignoring the thousands who have been killed on its soil and the billions spent fighting extremists.
Pakistan counters that it has launched military operations to push out militants from its soil and that 17,000 Pakistanis have died fighting militants or in bombings and other attacks since 2001.