US AND PAKISTAN NO LONGER FRIENDS, SAYS PAKISTAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has declared US and Pakistan are no longer friends and the bilateral ties need a serious revisit. He, in fact, was so acerbic during an interview that he went on the say that US was a friend who always betrayed and added that in case of any US aggression, “Pakistan would respond in a manner that would reflect the nation’s will.”

“The US behaviour is neither that of an ally nor of a friend. It is a friend who always betrays,” Asif said in a television interview. He said Pakistan could survive without the US assistance as it had done during the Pressler Amendment, “They did it in the past as well, which is evident from our history. They have always betrayed us in hard times.” He also advocated a tough resolution by the Pakistani parliament on the issue reflecting the national sentiment.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister doubted US motives in Afghanistan, blaming a nexus between US and India as, according to him, instability in the region suits both, “They, the US and allies, have best and highly equipped forces. How come they could not perform in Afghanistan? Why there is 9000 tons of opium being produced in Afghanistan and why is Daesh present there in as much as nine provinces.”

Asif asserted that his views on the matter should be seen as Pakistan’s official response as “he had no individual worth and he was just a public representative.”

Asif’s blunt remarks contradict the stand taken by the Pakistan Army on US President Donald Trump’s latest accusation that Pakistan has given the US nothing but lies and deceit thinking of US leaders as fools and now is the time to stop the financial aid to Pakistan. He blamed Pakistan for giving safe haven to the terrorists the US hunts in Afghanistan in spite of receiving $33 Billion of US aid in last 15 years.

After Trump’s latest accusation, the US withheld scheduled $255 million military financial assistance to Pakistan. The White House released a statement asking Pakistan to do more in the war on terror and today came up with a list of 27 Haqqani Network terrorists and wants action against them by 15 January.

In Pakistan Army’s first official response yesterday, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, Director-General (DG) of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Army, though had said that no amount of coercion could dictate Pakistan but had also added that* “as far as Pakistan was concerned, it considered them (the US) as allies” declaring that “the Pakistan-US relationship has had its ups and downs but still, they were friends.”

When asked about reports emerging that the US is not willing to consider Pakistan a friend and ally anymore, he said Pakistan could have chosen the erstwhile USSR as its ally but instead preferred the US and still considers the country as its ally.

He, in fact, termed the US-Pakistan tension an issue of misunderstanding. He said Pakistan had taken action against the Haqqani Network but the US should give some time for its effects to become visible, “effects of these operations cannot be visible immediately. Only time will show how effective these operations were in establishing peace within the region.”

©SantoshChaubey

AUDIT OUR EXPENSES, PAKISTAN MINISTER FIRES BACK AT TRUMP; REPORT SAYS ISLAMABAD PLANNING REVIEW OF TIES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Trump Stops Pak Aid, Trump Suspends Pak Aid, Trump Bans Pak Aid, Trump Warns Pakistan, Trump Puts Pakistan on Notice, Khawaja Asif, Pak NSC, Pakistan Isolated, Pakistan Cornered, US Warns Pakistan

Mike Pence Warns Pakistan, Pakistan in Denial, Pakistan Isolated, Pakistan Terror Groups, Safe Haven, Terror Haven, Trump Afghanistan Policy, Trump South Asia Policy, US Pakistan Ties, US Puts Pakistan on Notice, US South Asia Policy

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said Donald Trump could hire a US-based audit firm to verify the USD 33 billion figure he cited in a furious tweet on New Year’s Day.

In that post, the US President lamented that the US had “foolishly given” Pakistan that amount of money over a 15-year period. In return, Pakistan had given Washington “nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” he added.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he said. The news agency PTI later quoted a White House official as saying the US, “does does not plan to spend the USD 255 million in FY 2016 in Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan at this time.”

In response to Trump’s tweet, Khawaja Asif suggested that an audit would “let the world know who is lying and deceiving.”

REVISION OF TIES

Meanwhile, the Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune reported today – citing sources – that Islamabad “will completely revise its relations policy” with the US, if “if the US reduces or suspends aid to Pakistan or places any sanctions.”

The newspaper also quoted sources as saying Pakistan “has…decided to reduce dependency on the US in different fields and look for alternatives.”

“It will also speed up the process of implementing its strategy for increasing diplomatic, trade and other relations with China, Russia and other countries,” the Tribune said.

EMERGENCY MEETING

Today, Pakistan held an emergency meeting of its National Security Council, in a desperate bid to find a way to respond to Trump’s accusations.

The meeting was chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and was attended by the Khawaja Asif, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, navy and air-force chiefs and other high-ranking civil and military officers. Pakistan has also called a Federal Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Its Parliamentary Committee on National Security will meet on Friday to discuss the matter.

“The meeting discussed the way forward in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recent anti Pakistan remarks,” is all that a three-line Radio Pakistan brief said after the meeting.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTAN QUESTIONS RATIONALE BEHIND TRUMP’S LATEST ACCUSATIONS BUT DESISTS FROM ISSUING AN OFFICIAL RESPONSE

Pakistan today held the emergency meeting of its National Security Council in a desperate bid to find a way to respond to the latest accusations levelled against it by US President Donald Trump but no details of the meeting have been made public so far. “The meeting discussed the way forward in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recent anti Pakistan remarks,” is all that a three-line Radio Pakistan brief said after the meeting.

But Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, did indicated what transpired in the meeting when he questioned the the rationale behind Trump’s latest accusations. In a tweet, after the meeting, he questioned the figure of $33billion quoted by Trump and asserted that “he can hire a US based Audit firm on Pakistan’s expense to verify the figure and let the world know who is lying and who is deceiving.”

The meeting was called after the most direct and hard hitting warning by Trump yesterday that Pakistan had given the US nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of US leaders as fools in spite of the US giving Pakistan more than $33 Billion in aid over the last 15 years.

Trump, in his first tweet of 2018, termed the US aid to Pakistan by his predecessors foolish as Pakistan gives safe haven to the terrorists the US has been hunting in Afghanistan and declared that there would be no help to Pakistan. No more! In what is being seen as a follow up of Trump’s tweet to tell Pakistan that the US is going to walk the talk this time, it soon suspended a part of its military assistance to Pakistan, $255 Million for FY2016, linking it with how Pakistan is going to behave in future.

The meeting was chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and was attended by the Khawaja Asif, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, its navy and air-force chiefs and other high-ranking civil and military officers. Pakistan has also called its Federal Cabinet meeting on Wednesday while its Parliamentary Committee on National Security will meet on Friday to discuss the matter.

The all-important NSC meeting, seeking a desperate way to respond to the latest Trump warning saw the Pak envoy in the US, Aizaz Chaudhry, being summoned. The meeting had inputs of Pakistan army to shape its response. Shortly before the NSC meeting, Pakistan army held its Corps Commanders’ conference and prepared its list of suggestions on Pakistan’s official response, Dawn News* reported.

INITIAL RESPONSE BY PAKISTAN

The initial response by Pakistan yesterday was to downplay the Trump tweet. Its Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, while reacting on Trump’s charges, said it held no importance, “We have already told the US that we will not do more, so Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance.” He said Pakistan was “ready to give all account for every single penny to America in public”. The country’s Defence Minister exhorted that Pakistan was capable of defending its motherland. Pakistan even summonsed the US envoy in Pakistan, David Hale, to lodge its protest on Trump’s tweet.

TRUMP’S LATEST IS NOT UNEXPECTED

Trump’s tough talk came a week after the US Vice-president Mike Pence had warned that the US President had put Pakistan on notice for its dubious role in the war against terror. While on a surprise visit to Afghanistan on 22 December, Pence had bluntly warned that “for too long Pakistan had provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organisations but those days were over as President Trump had put Pakistan on notice.”

Before that, while unveiling his first National Security Strategy on 18 December, Trump had given Pakistan some tough dressing-down reminding Pakistan that it owed to the US, “We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.”

PAKISTAN NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

Pakistan’s National Security Council is the country’s most powerful policy group on national security and foreign policy matters. The country’s president is its chairman and its members include the country’s prime minister, other senior ministers, three services chiefs, leader of the opposition, chairman of Pakistan’s senate, speaker of Pakistan’s national assembly, provincial chief ministers and other senior officials like the intelligence chiefs and the national security advisor. It is said that the NSC was created with the sole intention to formalize the Pakistani military policymaking role.

Earlier, on August 25, Pakistan had to convene an emergency meeting of its NSC after Donald Trump unveiled his Afghanistan centric South Asia policy which called Pakistan a terror haven and a treacherous nation involved in double-dealings. The revamped US policy in Afghanistan has major role for India in the country, something that has unnerved Pakistan.

Then the Pak NSC had outrightly rejected the US policy and the claims made in it, like it has done today, repeating the routine Pakistani bluster that the US is making Pakistan a scapegoat to hide its own failures in Afghanistan.

©SantoshChaubey