Pakistani opposition and ruling party politicians have suggested Islamabad is willing to reconsider its relationship with Washington after U.S. President Donald Trump accused the Muslim-majority country of sheltering jihadist groups that operate in Afghanistan.
Islamabad could “review its cooperation if it is not appreciated,” declared Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi in condemning the Trump administration’s aggressive stance against Pakistan’s alleged support for jihadist groups, reports the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.
Meanwhile, Syed Khursheed Shah, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, urged Pakistani politicians to come together and issue a bipartisan “unified response” to Trump’s recent statements against Islamabad, reports Dawn.
Shah reportedly called for Pakistan to review its relationship with the United States.
“The U.S. president’s remarks about $33 billion in aid reflect his immaturity and narrow-mindedness; the entire nation should demonstrate that we stand united to foil any designs against Pakistan,” he said.
According to the Express Tribune, Pakistan has already decided to reconsider its ties to the United States and “adopt a tough stance” following Trump’s comments.
On New Year’s Day, President Trump reiterated his assertion that Pakistan continues to provide sanctuary to terrorists who are killing and injuring American troops and their allies in 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. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
The day after, the Trump administration announced it was withholding $255 million in military aid from Pakistan.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., confirmed that the U.S. decided to deprive Islamabad of American taxpayer-funded assistance, accusing Pakistan of playing a “double game” with America.
In response, Pakistan’s Lodhi warned against “shifting the blame for [America’s] own mistakes and failures onto others.”
The ruling and opposition parties argued that Pakistan does not support terrorist groups and stands strong against jihadist organizations in the region.
Pakistan has “contributed and sacrificed the most in fighting international terrorism,” alleged Lodhi, noting that Islamabad’s role in the war against jihadist groups is not contingent upon U.S. aid but, rather, “national interests and principles.”
Shah, the opposition leader, indicated that “Pakistan had paid a heavy price for allying itself with the US since 1979.”
“It is impossible to compensate the losses we have suffered,” he proclaimed, adding, “We lost 70,000 lives in America’s war.”
He complained that since the al-Qaeda attacks on the American homeland on September 11, 2001, the United States has continuously requested that Pakistan “do more” to combat terrorism.
The Express Tribune noted that Islamabad refuses to “do more” to combat terrorism in South Asia.