PHOTO BY: Tejinder Singh
Heather Nauert

Heather Nauert, the State Department spokesperson



Washington, DC – The rising tensions between the US and Pakistan, its ally against terrorism took another turn this week as Islamabad summoned David Hale, the US ambassador to get explanation of US President Donald Trump’s accusing tweet about Pakistan’s “lies and deceit.”

Heather Nauert, the State Department spokesperson confirmed the meeting terming it, “Professional.” Replying to a question at the department briefing today (Jan. 2), Nauert told journalists, “Yes, our ambassador did meet with the Pakistanis. I believe it was last evening – in Pakistan, and he described that meeting to me as a professional meeting. A professional meeting, professional in tone.”

President Donald Trump in his first posting on Twitter of 2018, accused Pakistan of lying to and deceiving the US despite receiving billions in foreign aid.

“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 tweeted, adding, “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Haley Confirms Aid Withholding

At a news conference, Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations echoed the Presidential Tweet accusing Pakistan of playing “a double game for years” and confirmed the administration will withhold $255 million in aid to the country.

Further accusing Pakistan of harboring the terror groups, Haley said, ”They work with us at times, and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan,” adding, ”That game is not acceptable to this administration.”

But Nauert said that the announcement for withholding the aid came way back in August last year. She said, “That was an announcement that came out back in August, and for some reason, people got interested in it again. But that is not a new announcement that we would hold back on that money.”

Pakistan reacted angrily to the tweet, saying all the funding was accounted for and that President Trump was bitter due to the “US defeat in Afghanistan.” Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, in response to the Trump tweet, said that Pakistan has already refused to “do more” for the United States. “We have already told the US that we will not do more, so Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance,” Asif said in an exclusive interview with Geo News, a Pakistani media outlet.

Expectations

Nauert, however, highlighted Pakistan as “an important partner.” Taking “do more” out of the dialogue, she said, “We have a lot of issues in that region. Pakistan knows that, we all know that, and we try to work carefully together on some of those issues, but Pakistan – I don’t want to say that Pakistan can do more, but Pakistan knows what it needs to do.”

Listing Washington’s expectations from Islamabad, Nauert said: “We expect Pakistan – and we’ve made clear, and the President has made clear in the past also through his new strategy that was announced back in August about the Asia – the new Asia strategy – that the United States expects Pakistan to take decisive action against the Haqqani Network and other militants who are operating from its soil. And they need to better – to earn, essentially, the money that we have provided in the past in foreign military assistance, they need to show that they are sincere in their efforts to crack down on terrorists.”

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