Pakistan’s start to 2018, in terms of global diplomacy, was not as bright as many had expected. US President Donald Trump, in his first tweet of 2018, lambasted Pakistan for being deceitful, and therefore, indicating a possible end to the US financial assistance for Islamabad. It was the first instance when Washington’s decade-old mantra of ‘Do More’ morphed into ‘No More’ after Trump’s tweet. It was also recently reported that the Trump administration was considering withholding USD 225 million in aid to Pakistan, reflecting its dissatisfaction with Islamabad’s reluctance in the war against 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
In the meantime, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif also utilised Twitter to respond to Trump’s accusations, saying that Pakistan would soon respond. “We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly; and let the world know the difference between facts and fiction,” Asif wrote in his tweet.
We will respond to President Trump's tweet shortly inshallah…Will let the world know the truth..difference between facts & fiction..
— Khawaja M. Asif (@KhawajaMAsif) January 1, 2018
In response to Trump’s tweet, Pakistan’s all-weather ally China offered support to Islamabad and acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices in the War on Terror. “Pakistan has made enormous efforts and sacrifice for the fight against terrorism and has made very outstanding contribution to the global cause of counter terrorism. The international community should acknowledge that,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said when asked about Trump’s criticism of Pakistan. “China and Pakistan are all weather partners. We stand ready to promote and deepen our all-round cooperation so as to bring benefits to the two sides,” Mr Geng further added.
Khwaja Asif, further responding to Trump, accused the US and Afghan forces of overlooking anti Pakistan TTP terrorists in Afghanistan. “US forces based in Afghanistan also overlooked safe havens of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which has killed thousands of Pakistanis,” said Asif while talking to a private news outlet.
Pak-US ties have, in recent times, hit an all time low since 2001, when both the countries joined hands in the Global War on Terror in Afghanistan. Where the US has accused Pakistan of providing tacit support to the Haqqani Network, Pakistan, on the other hand, has accused the US of not taking action against the TTP heads in Afghanistan. Pakistan also believes that Washington does not acknowledge the sacrifices Pakistan has made, both human and financial, in the War on Terror.
It was also recently revealed by US media outlets how Trump’s untamed Twitter-diplomacy is pushing US allies in Asia away from Washington and closer to Beijing. US experts on the Af-Pak region believe that Trump’s latest tweet would push Pakistan further away from the US, making it harder for the latter to achieve gains in Afghanistan.