Trump says he will be meeting the Pakistani leadership in the “not-too-distant future”.
Published in Dawn, on Jan 03rd, 2019,
US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that he “looks forward to meeting the new leadership in Pakistan” but not without accusing Islamabad of “housing the enemy”, CNN reported.
Trump’s remarks came when he was making a point about his ongoing disagreement with Congressional lawmakers over allocation of finances that has led to a partial shut down of the US government.
The US president, while addressing a cabinet meeting, defended his demand to build a $5 billion wall, questioning why “we give away money to other countries but not to our own country”.
“It’s unfair when we give money to Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador and they do nothing to us,” he added.
Trump reminded his audience that it was him who had discontinued the funds given to Pakistan, saying: “When we give money to Pakistan, $1.3 billion, I ended that. A lot of people don’t know it, because they haven’t been fair to us.”
The US president, who last month wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking Pakistan’s assistance in achieving a negotiated settlement of the Afghan war, said he wants to have better relations with Pakistan but levelled a grave allegation in the same breath.
“We want to have a great relationship with Pakistan, but they house the enemy, they take care of the enemy,” he said. “We just can’t do that. So, I look forward to meeting with the folks from — and the new leadership in Pakistan, we’ll be doing that in the not-too-distant future. I ended the 1.3 billion we paid, it’s like water, we just do it.”
Trump has been consistent in his criticism of Pakistan since he launched his South Asia and Afghanistan strategy despite multiple attempts made by the two governments to fix the problems in their ties.
In November 2018, a row that began with Trump’s interview to Fox News had led to a series of tweets by both the US head of state and PM Khan.
President Trump, while talking about the reasons for ending the over a billion dollar annual aid for Pakistan at the beginning of the year, had said the country didn’t do “a damn thing for us”.
Subsequently, Prime Minister Khan had led the sharp reaction by political leaders to Trump’s tirade against Pakistan by hinting at review of foreign policy options and asking the US president to introspect on the real reasons for America’s failure in Afghanistan.
Trump’s stance on Pakistan has since softened considerably with him acknowledging in his letter to the PM last month that the “war had cost both USA and Pakistan.”