ISLAMABAD: Pakistan summoned the US Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad on Tuesday to protest President Donald Trump’s criticism of Pakistan’s role in fighting terrorism and the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Trump’s comments over the last few days have angered Pakistan, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, who on Monday hit back by saying on Twitter that few allies had sacrificed or helped the United States as much as Pakistan in its war on terror, suffering 75,000 casualties.
The friction threatens to worsen already fragile relations between Islamabad and Washington, on-off allies which have repeatedly clashed over the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s alleged support for Islamist militants.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua called in US envoy Paul Jones “to register a strong protest on the unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations made against Pakistan”, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Over the weekend, Trump said in an interview Pakistan doesn’t “do a damn thing” for the United States despite billions of dollars in US aid, and alleged Pakistani officials knew of former Al Qaida leader Bin Laden’s location before his killing by US troops in a raid inside Pakistan in 2011. On Monday, Trump tweeted again and doubled down on those claims.
“Rejecting the insinuations about OBL, Foreign Secretary reminded the US [Charge d’Affaires] that it was Pakistan’s intelligence cooperation that provided the initial evidence to trace the whereabouts of OBL,” the ministry said.
On Tuesday, Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, without mentioning Trump, said “Pakistan has done much more for peace in Afghanistan” than any other country.
“We have paid the highest military, economic, political and social cost and the world should acknowledge that,” Bajwa added, according to comments released by military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi also made it clear that Pakistan cannot be held responsible for US failures in Afghanistan. “Pakistan has paid with blood in the war on terror. We lost 75,000 people and our economy lost an estimated $123 billion (Dh451.4 billion). The United States is safer today because of our contributions and it’s a shame to hear statements that don’t take those facts into account,” Qureshi said in his tweet responding to Trump’s allegations
Political analyst Dr A.Z. Hilali termed the allegations by US President “an irresponsible diplomatic behaviour” that could further escalate regional tension. “Pakistan has rendered matchless sacrifices and lost much in the war against terrorism. The US administration must realise that it cannot resolve Afghan dispute Pakistan’s support. Instead of blaming Pakistan, the Washington must revise its policies regarding Pakistan and review its reasons for failures in Afghanistan,” he suggested.
Defence analyst Lt Gen (Retd) Gulam Mustafa says PM Imran Khan’s response to Trump’s baseless allegations against Pakistan truly represents the sentiment of the whole nation. “Despite using force and technology, US failed to achieve its goals and maintain peace in Afghanistan which is why Taliban still have strong hold in the country” he commented, adding that “The US government must realise that the political situation of the region has changed and Pakistan is not dependent on Washington anymore.”
Analyst Brig (Retd) Haris Nawaz emphasised that “Pakistan’s role in war against terrorism cannot be undermined as the country has rendered unparalleled sacrifices. The success that US have achieved in Afghanistan against Al Qaida was made possible to support of Pakistan. US should understand the reality that peace in Afghanistan cannot be established in Afghanistan without the support of Pakistan.”
— with inputs from Sana Jamal, correspondent