President Donald Trump lashed out at Pakistan on Twitter just a few minutes past 7:00 a.m. Eastern time on New Year’s Day, expressing frustration at Islamabad’s inadequate efforts against terrorism and implying that U.S. foreign aid will be terminated as a result.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
It is not yet clear whether the “no more” exclamation means the complete or partial termination, or temporary suspension, of American aid to Pakistan.
If the complete termination of U.S. foreign aid does indeed become official policy, it would be a far more dramatic step than withholding all or part of America’s $255 million in military assistance to Pakistan, a measure reportedly under consideration by the administration over the past few days after Pakistan refused to allow U.S. interrogators access to a captured terrorist from the hostage-taking Haqqani network.
In August, President Trump said the “next pillar” of his strategy for battling terrorism would involve a “change in our approach to Pakistan.”
Trump accused Pakistan of giving “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror.”
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” the president said. ”These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide – that no place is beyond the reach of American arms.
The Trump administration withheld $50 million in military aid to Pakistan over the summer because it felt Islamabad was not doing enough to bring down the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. There was some criticism at the time that despite his strong complaints about Pakistan refusing to help fight the Taliban or even actively colluding with it, Trump was dealing more harshly with Egypt over human rights violations by its government.
The Pakistani military rescued a Canadian-American family held hostage for years by the Haqqanis in October. Concerns have been raised that even this rescue might have been the result of a deal between the Pakistanis and the militant network, which has long been suspected of enjoying special favors and protection from elements of the Pakistani security apparatus. The prisoner Pakistan refused to allow the United States to interview was tied to the kidnapping of this Canadian-American family.
On Thursday, Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor warned the United States against taking “unilateral” military action on its soil and denied his country was not doing enough to fight the Taliban and its allies, promising that the results of Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations would be “seen in subsequent years and months.”
After making this declaration, Ghafoor implied Pakistan could actually do more, once its concerns about Afghan refugees are addressed. “If there are any facilitators and abetters inside Pakistan that can only be addressed if the 2.7 million Afghan refugees are sent back to Afghanistan,” he said.