Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit,” saying the US was “foolish” to have given the country more than $33bn in aid.
The American President launched the scathing attack in his first tweet of 2018, claiming Pakistan “give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt” and think “of our leaders as fools”.
It follows reports the US is considering denying Islamabad $255 million in aid in a show of discontent with its efforts to fight terrorism.
Mr Trump wrote: “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 and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools.
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
The President made no further comment on the issue and it was not immediately clear if his tweet signalled a decision to cut off aid to Islamabad.
Relations between the US and Pakistan have soured since Mr Trump entered the White House.
Earlier this year the President announced a “a change in our approach to Pakistan”, which he claimed “often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror”.
In a televised speech in Washington in August, he said: “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.
“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbour terrorists.”
The Trump administration later attached new conditions to financial assistance given annually to Pakistan. Washington said Islamabad would only receive the $255 million military aid if it did more to crack down on terror networks launching attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan.
The New York Times last week reported the White House was strongly considering withholding the delayed money after Pakistan refused to allow the US access to a captured militant from the Taliban-linked Haqqani network.
The militant was arrested in October by Pakistani forces as they rescued a Canadian-American family who had been held captive for five years, and the US had hoped he could provide valuable information of other American hostages.
In November, Washington strongly condemned Pakistan’s release of the alleged militant accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed more than 160 people.
The White House said Hafiz Saeed’s release from house arrest “after Pakistan’s failure to prosecute or charge him sends a deeply troubling message about Pakistan’s commitment to combatting international terrorism”.
“If Pakistan does not take action to lawfully detain Saeed and charge him for his crimes, its inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistan’s global reputation,” added press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Pakistan has since reportedly drafted plans to seize control of charities and financial assets linked to the Islamist leader, who is designated a terrorist by Washington.
The Financial Action Task Force, an international body that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, had warned Islamabad it faced inclusion of a watch list for failing to crack down on funding terrorism.
Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said he he had ordered authorities “to choke the fundraising of all proscribed outfits in Pakistan“.
He denied the Islamabad was taking action under US pressure, telling Reuters in a statement: ”We’re not pleasing anyone. We’re working as a responsible nation to fulfil our obligations to our people and international community.”
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