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January 2, 2018

Trump’s tirade: Civil, military advise cautious approach


January 2, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Don’t panic, but take Donald Trump seriously and cautiously.

This was the message emanating from Pakistan’s powerful civil and military quarters on Monday as the US president’s new and direct allegations occupied country’s media waves. A cross-section of Pakistani society on Monday rejected Trump’s allegations of a double game in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif relied on a short tweet to indicate country’s expected response as the official reaction was minutely being carved out in capital Islamabad through political, diplomatic and military’s input. “Will let the world know the truth … difference between facts & fiction,” foreign minister tweeted hinting clearly what was to come on Tuesday.

As Pakistani government held closed-door discussions to come up with a befitting reply to the US President’s open allegations against the country, there were some voices that cautioned against taking Trump lightly, arguing the incumbent US president could be criticized for his casual style of tweeting on sensitive issues, but shouldn’t be taken for granted as he heads the most significant military power of the planet.

Trump, on the first day of the New Year, surprised Pakistani civil and military leaders by accusing the country of giving Washington "nothing but lies and deceit". He went to the extent of accusing that Islamabad thinks of US leaders "as fools".

Keeping true to his reputation of a pure and blunt businessman who had during the last year even annoyed his Nato and European counterparts for his off the hook remarks, Trump indirectly accused the past US administrations when he stated.

“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!”

The News talked to Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani and foreign policy and security analyst Dr Maria Sultan on the issue. Both had distinct and opposing views on the issues. Haqqani opined: “President Trump is reflecting not just frustration but anger with Pakistan’s refusal to cooperate in stabilizing Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, Pakistan’s leaders and officials still think it is just like past ‘do more’ statements. They should prepare for a much more robust US response to broken promises and consistent support for Jihadi groups”.

Dr Maria Sultan, heading her own security and foreign policy think tank in Islamabad, toes a very pro- establishment line, stating: “The contribution and the sacrifices made by us have not been registered besides the threat which is emerging in the form of ISIS, IMU and TTP is something which the US is silent about let alone committed to in fighting in Afghanistan.”

“Furthermore, till last year the story of the money given to Pakistan also begs clarity as only $11.7 billion was invoiced by the Govt of Pakistan inclusive of CSF over the last 15 years. It is time the US administration merits clarity of where this money was given and to who for it was certainly to Pakistan.”

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