How they see us: Pakistan rages over Trump tweets
Pakistani leaders find U.S. President Donald Trump’s outrageous accusations against our nation “incomprehensible,” said Sanaullah Khan and Nadir Guramani in Dawn (Pakistan). In his first tweet of the year, Trump bemoaned the fact the U.S. had “foolishly” handed Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the past 15 years and been rewarded with “nothing but lies & deceit.” Pakistan has given “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan,” he wrote. “No more!” Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi quickly summoned the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad for an explanation and convened a National Security Committee meeting of top civilian and military leaders to discuss Pakistan’s response. Trump, the committee said, had heartlessly trivialized “the huge sacrifices made by Pakistan, including the loss of tens of thousands of lives” in the war on terror. Other officials noted that nearly all U.S. aid to Pakistan is merely repayment for expenses incurred by Pakistan’s military as it assists the U.S. in Afghanistan, including America’s use of Pakistani bases and communications assets.
You can thank India for Trump’s abrupt evolution on Pakistan, said India’s FirstPost.com. In his initial phone call as president-elect to Pakistan’s then–Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Trump praised Pakistanis and offered “to play any role you need me to play” to combat terrorism and stabilize Afghanistan. All the bonhomie, though, collapsed in June, after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Washington and whispered in Trump’s ear. The U.S. president then charged that Pakistan hadn’t done enough to stop the jihadists operating from its soil. By August, he was complaining that Pakistan “gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror.” Now he has announced that the U.S. will withhold $255 million in military aid for Pakistan. But Pakistan has “an ace or two up its sleeve,” said Jyoti Malhotra in The Indian Express (India). The U.S. has some 15,000 troops in Afghanistan, and it needs Pakistani cooperation there. In 2011, after 28 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a U.S. air raid, Pakistan banned NATO trucks from crossing into Afghanistan from its territory for seven months, until it got an apology. If Islamabad decides to take tough action, “the region will likely get even more troubled,” and Pakistan will “reach out even more to its benefactor and ‘iron brother,’ China.”
China is already behind us, said The News (Pakistan). A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Pakistan had “made enormous efforts and sacrifice for the fight against terrorism.” Yet we mustn’t listen to “hypernationalist calls” to break ties with the U.S. entirely, said the Daily Times (Pakistan) in an editorial. America has troops on our western border and is forging close ties with our enemy, India. If Trump is misinformed about our importance to the war on terror, surely “our poor diplomacy” is partly to blame. Let’s stop the bluster—and talk.