In his first tweet of 2018, President Donald Trump issued a harsh message to Pakistan.
On Monday morning, President Trump tweeted:
“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!”
Well, we already know that Trump isn’t one to mince words, but his message to the Pakistani government wasn’t an impulsive one. The Trump administration has been frustrated with Pakistan’s seeming indifference when it comes to helping the United States in its counterterrorism efforts.
Trump Announces That The U.S. Will Withhold Military Aid To Pakistan
An official with the National Security Council backed up Trump’s statement in an interview with Fox News. “The United States does not plan to spend the $225 million in [Fiscal Year] 2016 Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan at this time,” the official said. “The president has made clear that the United States expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil, and that Pakistan’s actions in support of the South Asia Strategy will ultimately determine the trajectory of our relationship, including future security assistance.”
The Trump administration is expected to continue to assess Pakistan’s cooperation in the war against terror. Last month, the president indicated that the United States would be cutting the United States’ aid to Pakistan during his national security address. “We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory,” he said. “And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.”
Although these statements were made recently, the president had been considering withholding aid as early as July 2017 when he met with his top national security aides at Camp David. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss our Afghanistan strategy. During the meeting, the subject of Pakistan came up. Some of his advisors pushed for a harsher stance against Islamabad while others preferred a softer approach. It appears that Trump is choosing the harsh approach.
Pakistan Isn’t Happy
Needless to say, Pakistan’s government isn’t taking the news well. Trump’s tweet caused quite an uproar. Their Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador David Hale to discuss Trump’s statement. They issued a protest against Trump’s remarks and asked for clarification.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi called for his Cabinet to meet on Tuesday and also scheduled a meeting with the National Security Committee for Wednesday. According to The Los Angeles Times, the president’s face “was plastered across TV channels in Pakistan.”
Several Pakistani officials complained about Trump’s statement. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif appeared on Geo Tv, Pakistan’s largest news outlet and voiced his disapproval. “We have already told the U.S. that we will not do more, so Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance,” Asif said. He stated that Islamabad was “ready to publicly provide every detail of the U.S. aid that it has received.”
Shireen Mazari, a Pakistani politician, also criticized Trump’s tweet. “We have sacrificed our citizens & soldiers fighting [your] war which we [should] never have done,” Mazari said.
Is Our Military Aid To Pakistan A Waste?
Relations between Washington and Islamabad were becoming strained even before President Trump took office. Tensions heightened when the United States discovered that Osama Bin Laden had been allowed to hide in Abbottabad, where U.S. Navy Seals found and killed him in 2011.
As Trump’s tweet indicates, most of the frustrations the U.S. has with Pakistan is related to Islamabad’s role in fighting Islamic extremists. Many in the U.S. government believe that Pakistan is not putting forth a sufficient enough effort to eliminate terrorism. Considering the fact that we have sent them billions of dollars in aid, this frustration is understandable.
Not only has Pakistan not done enough to combat terrorism, many believe that rogue elements within Pakistan’s military actually provide assistance and protection for terrorist entities. Islamabad has not made a concerted effort to root out the factions that support terrorism.
The U.S. military has already taken steps against Pakistan. Earlier this year, they stopped contributing to the coalition support fund. Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated that the military had not found evidence that Pakistan is making a “sincere effort” to destroy the Taliban.
If Pakistan isn’t willing to do their part to oppose terrorism, then there is no reason to continue sending military aid. Sending aid to Islamabad has been a waste of money and resources that could have been used for initiatives that help us eliminate terrorism. Withholding military aid from Pakistan sends a message to the world that countries we support financially can no longer expect to receive funding without some serious reciprocity.