Pakistan’s foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned US’ top diplomat in Islamabad to protest against President Donald Trump’s allegation that the country harboured al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and was supporting Afghan Taliban insurgents despite receiving billions of dollars in American aid.
“The Foreign Secretary called the US Chargé d’Affaires Paul Jones to register a strong protest on the unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations made against Pakistan,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Such baseless rhetoric…was totally unacceptable,” the ministry further said.
The latest flashpoint comes at a time when relations between Pakistan and US have been at its lowest ebb, with Trump repeatedly criticising the Asian country over supporting Afghan Taliban insurgents waging war against US-backed troops in Afghanistan and providing a safe haven to Islamist militants.
In September, the US said it would cancel $300 million in military aid to Pakistan over its inaction to crackdown against terrorists and militants. This is in addition to another $500 million in aid that was withdrawn earlier this year at the behest of the US Congress.
In an interview with “Fox News Sunday”, Trump said Laden had been living in “a nice mansion” in Pakistan next to a military academy and “everybody in Pakistan knew he was there”. “And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. …(bin Laden) lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year – which we don’t give them any more, by the way. I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” he said.
The US president’s tirade touched a nerve in Islamabad. Pakistan PM Imran Khan said, “record needs to be put straight on Trump’s allegations against Pakistan.” In a series of tweets, Khan said few allies have sacrificed or helped the US as much as Pakistan in its war on terror.
“Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 1,40,000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before,” Khan tweeted.
The Pakistan PM further said the country had borne the brunt of the US’ war on terror. “No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pakistan decided to participate in US war on terror. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war and over $123 bn was lost to the economy,” he said.