Anti-US anger sweeps Pak

'Trump tweet disregarded Islamabad's sacrifices in war against terror'

By Nasir Jaffry in Islamabad and Our Delhi Bureau
  • Published 3.01.18
Pakistanis at an anti-US protest in Karachi on Tuesday. (AP)

A wave of anger is sweeping Pakistan over President Donald Trump's tweet, prompting several analysts to express the fear that bilateral relations might be irreparably damaged unless it is controlled immediately.

Political leaders, including cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, Pakistan People's Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, said the comment disregarded Pakistan's sacrifices in the ongoing war against terror.

In his tweet Trump had said: "The 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 and deceit. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

On Monday night, the Pakistan foreign office summoned US ambassador David Hale for an explanation.

On Tuesday evening, Pakistan's National Security Committee (NSC) "noted its deep disappointment on the statement" after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi and attended by the top military officers and senior ministers.

"Recent statements and articulation by the American leadership 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 - a nation that has contributed so significantly to regional and global security and peace," the Pakistan NSC said.

It observed that Pakistan has fought the war against terrorism primarily out of its own resources and at a great cost to its economy.

The NSC observation came hours after foreign minister Khawaja Asif challenged Trump's claim that the US had given Pakistan "more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years", saying verification by an audit firm would prove him wrong.

Analysts were shocked at what they called an "uncalled for" statement by Trump. "Such statements by Trump could only vitiate the atmosphere," analyst Hasan Askari said.

Imran said: "Trump is a nincompoop, who has no wisdom." "We will not let Pakistan become a scapegoat this time," said Bilawal.

China backs Pak

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, asked during a regular briefing about Trump's tweet, did not mention the US but said: "We have said many times that Pakistan has put forth great effort and made great sacrifices in combating terrorism."

Additional reporting by Reuters