Unclear if Trump tweet is expression of US policy but Administration holds up $255 million in assistance
Developments on Day 347 of the Trump Administration:
Pakistan Hits Back Over US “Invective and Mistrust”
Donald Trump begins the New Year with a tweet accusing Pakistan of taking billions of dollars from Washington, only to support terrorism:
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 & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
It is unclear what spurred Trump’s anger and whether — as he spent a seventh straight day on the golf course in Florida — he was portending a change in US policy towards Islamabad and America’s 16-year intervention in neighboring Afghanistan. However, White House spokesman Raj Shah said late Monday afternoon that the Administration does not plan to spend $255 million in fiscal 2016 military aid to Pakistan which has been appropriated by Congress:
The President has made clear that the United States 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.
The payment, part of a $1.1 billion aid package authorized in 2016, has been on hold since August.
Pakistan’s Defense Ministry responded to Trump’s outburst:
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.
— Pak Minister Defence (@PakMnstrDefence) January 1, 2018
Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir-Khan retweeted an analyst’s assessment that “Trump is a bully with thin skin” and issued a musical message which appeared to be aimed at the President:
Leonard Cohen's last album, "You want it darker"
— Khurram Dastgir-Khan (@kdastgirkhan) January 1, 2018
Cabinet Ministers met in Islamabad, as Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said in a TV interview that the country is ready to publicly provide an accounting of “every detail” of US aid which it has received.
The US has appropriated $34 billion in direct aid and military reimbursements for Pakistan since 2002. The proposed security and economic assistance at $345 million for this fiscal year, a fall from $526 million in fiscal year 2017.