President Donald Trump used his first tweet of the new year to denounce Pakistan, saying the country has taken billions in U.S. aid and given “nothing but lies and deceit” in return.
Trump criticized Pakistan for harboring terrorists the U.S. is trying to fight in Southwest Asia and suggested that future aid might be withheld.
“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,” he tweeted. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
Trump has publicly expressed frustration with Pakistan before, but he praised the country as recently as October, when Pakistan cooperated with U.S. authorities to free an American woman and her family from Taliban captivity.
“This is a very positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan,” Trump said at the time, adding that Islamabad’s cooperation “is a sign that is honoring America wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.”
Since then, however, the already tense relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan has frayed even further. When he announced his national security strategy in December, Trump singled out Pakistan, saying “they have to help” the U.S. military in Afghanistan because of the “massive payments” Washington gives to Islamabad.
The New York Times reported last week that the U.S. might withhold $255 million in aid to Pakistan as punishment for its reluctance to confront terrorists operating in the country. The Trump administration delayed the aid package in August, and top administration officials met in December to decide whether to cancel it altogether, The Times reported.
U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson said in November that he hadn’t seen a change in Pakistan’s behavior since Trump announced his Afghanistan strategy, which calls for Islamabad to do more. Nicholson, the commander of the NATO coalition in Afghanistan, said the U.S. will continue to pressure Pakistan to fight terrorists attacking coalition forces.
“Pakistan has fought hard and suffered heavily against those terrorists focused on its government, and now we are asking them to focus on the terrorists that are attacking Afghanistan and attacking the coalition,” he said, according to CNN. “The United States has been very clear about the direction we want to go, and we hope to see some change in the coming weeks and months.”
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