Pak hits back at Trump, says aid remark incomprehensive, ignores sacrifices

Pakistan on Tuesday expressed "deep disappointment" over US President Donald Trump's scathing remarks against it, saying the accusations strike with "great insensitivity" at the "trust" between the two countries.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi convened a National Security Council meeting here after Trump strongly rebuked the country accusing it of giving nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and sheltering terrorists in return for $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years.

The NSC meeting, attended by the powerful military chief and other top senior military and government officials, observed that statements by the US 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".

Pakistan's ambassador to the US David Hale was summoned to the NSC meeting, which discussed Pakistan's response to President Trump's fresh tirade while also reviewing the country's overall foreign policy, the DawnNews reported.

Following the NSC meeting, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif in a tweet challenged Trump's claim that the US has given Pakistan more than $33 billion dollars as aid over the last 15 years, saying verification by an audit firm would prove the US president wrong.

The foreign minister offered that Trump could hire a US-based audit firm "on our expense" to verify the $33 billion aid figure and "let the world know who is lying and deceiving".

"Pres Trump quoted figure of $33 billion given to PAK over last 15 yrs, he can hire a US based Audit firm on our expense to verify this figure & let the world know who is lying & deceiving..," Asif tweeted.

The meeting of the NSC, the top-level civil-military platform on security matters, in statement said that Pakistan has fought the war against terrorism primarily using its own resources and at a great cost to its economy.

"...the huge sacrifices made by Pakistan, including the loss of tens of thousands of lives of Pakistani civilians and security personnel, and the pain of their families, could not be trivialised so heartlessly by pushing all of it behind a monetary value and that too an imagined one, the committee observed.

It said Pakistan would continue to play role for peace in Afghanistan.

The Committee reached a consensus that despite all unwarranted allegations, Pakistan cannot act in haste and will remain committed to playing a constructive role towards an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, not just for the sake of its own people, but also for the peace and security of the region and international community, according to the statement.

The Committee reiterated firm support of Pakistan for the US-led international effort in Afghanistan, including continuously facilitating vital lines of communications for smooth counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan by the international coalition.

It observed that close interaction with the US leadership following the initial pronouncement of Trumps policy on South Asia had been "useful in creating a better understanding of each others perspectives on the best way forward to achieve durable peace and stability in Afghanistan."

"Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the collective failure in Afghanistan and that blaming allies certainly does not serve the shared objective of achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region, according the NSC.

The NSC was initially scheduled for Wednesday but was held a day earlier to come up with a response to the accusations of Trump.

Shortly before the meeting commenced, the military had finalised its suggestions for Pakistan's response to Trump's allegations in a Corps Commanders' Conference held at General Headquarters.

A meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security has also been called on January 5 to discuss the US' allegations.

In his first tweet of the new year, Trump had accused Pakistan of basing its relationship with the US on nothing but lies and deceit.

"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more! he tweeted.

Following Trump's tweet, Asif yesterday responded immediately saying, "...Will let the world know the truth...difference between facts and fiction".

He said Pakistan had told the Trump administration that it would do "no more" for it (in the fight against terrorism).

The Pakistan Army spokesman, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, had at a press conference last week asserted that the aid Pakistan received from the US was "reimbursement for support we gave to the coalition for its fight against Al Qaeda."

"Had we not supported the US and Afghanistan, they would never have been able to defeat Al Qaeda," he had said.

Unveiling his new South Asia policy in August, Trump had warned of tougher measures against Pakistan if it failed to cooperate with the US in the fight against terror.

The White House today confirmed that an already-delayed $255 million military aid to Pakistan had been blocked.

It said the fate of such assistance will depend on Islamabad's response to terrorism on its soil.

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