Pakistan Lodges Protest With US Embassy After Trump Says ‘No More’
US President Donald Trump’s first tweet of 2018 has caused ripples in international diplomatic circles, especially on the Twitter timelines of Pakistan government officials.
In his tweet, the US President slammed Pakistan as a ‘safe haven’ for terrorists and said that the “United States had foolishly given more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years.”
In response to Trump’s tweet, Pakistan on 1 January lodged its protest against the US embassy and summoned US ambassador to the country David Hale, reported ANI, quoting Pakistan media.
The tweet doesn’t specify the Trump administration’s future course of action regarding financial aid to Pakistan.
Shortly after Trump's attack, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a Pakistani media report said. Citing its sources, GEO TV reported that the “meeting held a detailed review of Trump's statement.”
On 2 January, Asif took to Twitter and invited US to hire an audit firm at Pakistan’s expense and check the $33billion amount quoted by Trump.
Needless to say, Donald Trump’s statement has also sparked varied reactions on Indian and Pakistani Twitter, and strong reports in international publications. Here’s a look.
Terse, Dysfunctional & Sour: Publications Describe US-Pakistan Relations
The aftermath of Donald Trump’s tweet has seen some strong reporting in international as well as South Asian publications. Alluding to President Trump's previous comments about Pakistan, The Independent said,
“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.”
Terming relations between the two countries as 'terse', Pakistani publication Dawn said,
“The US president’s tweet came in the aftermath of an increasingly terse back-and-forth between Washington and Islamabad since Trump announced his administration’s latest national security strategy. During the announcement, the US president had been quick to remind Pakistan of its ‘obligation’ to help America “because it receives massive payments” from Washington every year. “We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help,” the US President had said.”
Interestingly on 29 December 2017, The New York Times had published an article titled "Frustrated US Might Withhold $255 Million in Aid From Pakistan" where it described US-Pakistan relations as 'dysfunctional'.
“The Americans demanded access to the man, but Pakistani officials rejected those requests, the latest disagreement in the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the countries. Now, the Trump administration is strongly considering whether to withhold $255 million in aid that it had delayed sending to Islamabad, according to American officials, as a show of dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s broader intransigence toward confronting the terrorist networks that operate there.”
In India, Praise...
In India, the reactions from journalists, politicians and international relations experts was largely positive — ranging from joy to cautious praise.
Minister of State Jitendra Singh, reacted to Trump’s statement by saying:
... Across the Border, Not Really
Will Donald Trump’s tweet start a political storm in international relations in South Asia? We’ll just have to wait and watch.