NEW DELHI: US President Donald J Trump delivered a New Year’s rocket to Pakistan on Monday nearly calling the country a state sponsor of terrorism – as India does – and threatened to stop funds that Washington has been sending to Islamabad.
“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!” Trump tweeted Monday evening (India time).
Trump’s tweet is at once a scathing criticism of his predecessors’ Pakistan policy as well as a warning to Islamabad. Unless US policy changes after this -- Trump’s finality with the phrase “No more!” – gives the impression that Washington has set course for sanctions on Pakistan.
In India, there was a quiet chortle in the corridors of the foreign affairs ministry that is feeling vindicated. But there was no immediate official comment.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Khwaja M Abbas said Islamabad will respond. “We will respond to President Trump's tweet shortly inshallah...Will let the world know the truth..difference between facts & fiction..”, he tweeted.
The immediate provocation for Trump to tweet is not yet known but in just the past month actions from Pakistan have amounted to baiting the US.
First, in its official National Security Strategy document, the US emphasized the dangers of cooperating with “militants operating from within Pakistan.” The policy said the US will "insist that Pakistan take decisive action against militant and terrorist groups operating from its soil". The document angered Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua who alleged the US was biased towards India.
This was followed by two more developments: US vice-president Mike Pence said in Kabul that the Trump administration has warned Pakistan. Second, Trump announced that the US intends to shift its mission in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that Palestinians oppose because they claim East Jerusalem is the real capital of Palestine.
Yet, the Palestinian ambassador to Pakistan, subsequently recalled, shared a dais with Hafiz Saeed whom India describes as the mastermind of the 26/11 terror attacks in Bombay. Using sharp words Saeed had said: "The day Jerusalem (Bait-ul-Muqaddas) becomes the capital of Israel, a caravan of 'Jihad' will be launched. Pakistan's army chief General (Qamar Javed) Bajwa, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and all leaders of the political parties need to unite. Pakistan's atomic bomb is the asset of 'Islam', which should be used to free Jerusalem. This is my open announcement."
The same national security document that castigated Pakistan said of India that it is a leading global power.
"We welcome India’s emergence as a leading global power and stronger strategic and defence partner," it proclaimed.
"We will expand our defence and security cooperation with India, a Major Defence Partner of the United States, and support India’s growing relationships throughout the region," it said.