China has come out in defense of its ally Pakistan, defending its alleged “great efforts and sacrifices” to combat terrorism, in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent assertion that the Muslim-majority nation continues to harbor jihadists.
“Pakistan has made great efforts and sacrifices for combating terrorism and made prominent contributions to the cause of international counterterrorism, and the international community should fully recognize this,” declared Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, during his regular press briefing on Tuesday.
“China and Pakistan have maintained the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership. China stands ready to further deepen cooperation with Pakistan in various fields to bring greater benefits to the two peoples,” he added.
Pakistan has decided to reconsider its relationship with the United States and “adopt a tough stance” following Trump’s comments, the Express Tribune has learned, noting that Islamabad refuses to “do more” to combat terrorism in the region.
The comments from allies China and Pakistan came out came in response to U.S. President Trump once again blasting Pakistan for allegedly refusing to combat jihadists who are killing and maiming American troops and their allies in neighboring Afghanistan.
“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,” tweeted Trump. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
The Express Tribune reports:
Pakistan will highlight its sacrifices in the war against terrorism at the diplomatic front; and if the U.S. reduces or suspends aid to Pakistan or places any sanctions, the country will completely revise its relations policy with the superpower, according to sources.
Pakistan, said the sources, would not accept any demands to do more, and could stop all kinds of cooperation with the U.S. The only response to any ‘do more’ demands will be ‘no more’. The future policy with the U.S. would be limited to ‘cooperation for cooperation’ and relations based on equality.
Pakistani officials are expected to reach out to Islamabad’s allies, namely China, “to take them into confidence,” notes the news outlet.
Speficially, Islamabad is going to “speed up the process of implementing its strategy for increasing diplomatic, trade and other relations with China, Russia and other countries,” notes the Tribune.
According to the Pentagon, the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is home to the “highest regional concentration of terrorist groups in the world,” including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, their ally the Haqqani Network, and their alleged rival the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
In its most recent assessment of the war in Afghanistan, raging since October 2001, the Pentagon acknowledged that Pakistan continues to serve as a safe haven for the Haqqani Network, considered “the greatest threat” facing Americans and their allies in Afghanistan.
Early last month, China warned its citizens in Pakistan against potential terrorist attacks.
China’s largest province, the autonomous Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang, shares a border with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Many of the Islamic terrorist attacks on Chinese soil have been linked to Uighur (or Uyghur) Muslims from Xinjiang who are known to train and operate in neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, China continues to provide financial and military support to Pakistan.
Both Pakistan and China consider U.S. ally India to be their regional rival.
Furthermore, most jihadi strongholds in Afghanistan, including those belonging to the Afghan Taliban, al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Haqqani Network, sit on the Pakistani border.
Nonetheless, Pakistan reportedly told U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis during his recent visit to Islamabad that Pakistan would not accept any dictation from the United States to enhance its efforts against jihadists in its region.
Since unveiling his South Asia strategy, which primarily focuses on Afghanistan, President Trump has been trying to pressure Pakistan into no longer providing sanctuary to terrorist groups, to no avail.
The recent Pentagon assessment determined that Pakistan continues to allow terrorists to operate on its soil.
Afghanistan and Pakistan have long accused one another of harboring terrorists.
The Pakistani Taliban or Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — an independent group from its Afghan counterpart — is known to plan attacks in Pakistan from Afghanistan.
“Sanctuary on the Pakistani side and presence on the Afghan side remain security challenges for both countries and pose a threat to regional security and stability,” conceded the Pentagon.