UPDATES WITH COMMENTS FROM PENTAGON SPOKESMAN
By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan on Tuesday summoned the U.S. envoy and lodged protest over American President Donald Trump’s criticism of Islamabad, an official statement said.
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua called in the U.S. Charge d'affaires Ambassador Paul Jones to register a protest on the “unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations” made against Pakistan.
On Monday, a war of words erupted between Trump and Pakistani Prime minister Imran Khan on Twitter after the U.S. president’s recent statement saying Pakistan has not done “a damn things ” for the U.S.
“We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That's ENDING!, ” Trump tweeted.
Khan responded to the tweet and said: “Trump's false assertions add insult to the injury Pak has suffered in US WoT [War on Terror] in terms of lives lost & destabilised & economic costs. He needs to be informed abt [about] historical facts. Pak has suffered enough fighting US's war.
Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests. ”
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign secretary rejected the insinuations about Osama Bin Laden and reminded the U.S. envoy that it was her country’s “intelligence cooperation that provided the initial evidence to trace the whereabouts of OBL.”
“Conveying her Government’s disappointment on the recent tweets and comments by the US President, the US CdA [charge d'affaires] was told that such baseless rhetoric about Pakistan was totally unacceptable, ” the statement said.
It said the foreign secretary told the U.S. envoy that no other country had paid a heavier price than Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.
“The US must not forget that scores of top Al-Qaeda leaders were killed or captured by active Pakistani cooperation. Pakistan’s continued support to the efforts of international community in Afghanistan through Ground/ Air and Sea lines of communication was unquestionably critical to the success of this Mission in Afghanistan, ” the statement added.
In the wake of recent U.S. pronouncements to seek political settlement in Afghanistan, the statement said, Islamabad and Washington were working in “close coordination” with other regional stake holders in order to end the prolonged conflict.
“At this critical juncture, baseless allegations about a closed chapter of history could seriously undermine this vital cooperation,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry warned.
Meanwhile, a Pentagon spokesman said Pakistan remains a critical partner to America’s South Asia strategy, reported NDTV, an Indian news broadcaster.
“The US and Pakistan have a strong mutual interests in the region. As you know, they are critical (and) vital to the South Asia strategy and including the facilitation of a peace process that would lead to a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, ” the broadcaster quoted Col. Rob Manning as saying in an off-camera news conference.
When asked if his comments reflects that the Pentagon differs with the views of Trump on Pakistan, Manning said: “I do not have any announcement on any change to the military to military relationship we have with Pakistan.”
Relations between the two allies in the war against terrorism have nosedived since Trump assumed office last year, mainly because of clash of interest in war-torn Afghanistan.
Washington accuses Islamabad of providing safe havens to the powerful Haqqani network which is blamed for numerous attacks on foreign forces in Afghanistan including capital Kabul in recent years. Pakistan denies the allegations.