Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff: ‘Entire Nation Felt Betrayed’ by Trump Aid Cuts

FILE -- In this Nov. 29, 2016 file photo released by Inter Services Public Relations, the public relations arm of the Pakistani army, Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa attends the Change of Command ceremony in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Bajwa says he received a phone call from the head of …
Inter Services Public Relations via AP

Pakistani officials have continued to protest President Donald Trump’s decision to cut over one billion in military funding in response to Islamabad’s sluggish response to fighting terror within its borders. In a call to an American commander this week, one official claimed that the “entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed” by Trump.

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, speaking to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander General Joseph L Votel, reportedly insisted that the United States provide the nation “an honourable recognition of our contributions, sacrifices and unwavering resolve in the fight against terrorism for the peace and stability of the country,” according to the nation’s Express Tribune.

“[Bajwa] said that entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed over U.S. recent statements despite decades of cooperation,” the Pakistani army said in a statement. He reportedly added that Pakistan would continue “sincere counterterrorism efforts” without the funding.

Votel reportedly “apprised COAS about the U.S. decision regarding Security Assistance and Coalition Support Fund.” The Pakistani military statement claimed that Votel told Bajwa that the current tensions between the United States and Pakistan were a “temporary phase” in the relationship and that American troops were not currently planning any unilateral action within Pakistani borders.

President Trump began the year on Twitter by condemning the Pakistani government for taking billions in American taxpayers’ dollars and not doing enough to fight the various terrorist organizations that operate in the country, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other jihadist groups. “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,” Trump wrote. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Shortly after that declaration, the State Department announced that the United States would freeze military funding to the nation. Various news sources traced the funds in question and found that Pakistan would lose over one billion in aid.

“We are suspending security assistance, security assistance only, to Pakistan at this time until the Pakistani Government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters. “We consider them to be destabilizing the region and also targeting U.S. personnel.”

In response, the Pakistani government declared that “we do not have any alliance” with the United States and accused Trump of turning Pakistan into a “whipping boy.”

Authorities in Islamabad also announced a rekindling of what had become strained ties with China. China is depending heavily on Pakistan for the implementation of its “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) economic infrastructure plan, which aims to connect Beijing to western Europe with modern rail, roads, and ports that China would ultimately control. Pakistani officials balked at Chinese pressure to continue working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) wing of OBOR, but appeared to rapidly change their tune after Chinese officials defended Pakistan against Trump’s remarks. Last week, Pakistan announced it would allow trade interactions with China in its domestic currency, the yuan, rather than the U.S. dollar.

The Express Tribune also reported Friday that Pakistani officials are in ongoing talks with their American counterparts and insisting that the United States must “revise” the Trump administration’s policy. “Sources in Islamabad said that ‘do-more’ demands of Trump have created tensions between the two countries,” the newspaper reported, “which further intensified when Trump administration announced that aid to Pakistan was being suspended.”

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