U.S. President Donald Trump started the new year by hitting out against Pakistan and their support of terror. In his first tweet of 2018, 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 & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
In 2017, America withheld $350 million in promised aid to Pakistan over concerns that the government was aiding terrorists. An additional $225 million pledged to Pakistan’s military from the 2016 budget has to date not been given to Pakistan for the same reason. Total U.S. aid pledged to Pakistan in 2016 was $1.1 billion.
Earlier in the year, Trump warned that Pakistan’s support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network (an Afghan terrorist organization) would have repercussions with the U.S.
At the time, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained, “We have some leverage in terms of aid, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner – all of that can be put on the table.”
Non-NATO allies have access to billions of dollars in aid as well as advanced U.S. military technology.
Commenting on Trump’s tweet, Vivvek Katju, former ambassador to Afghanistan from India, blamed Pakistan’s intransigence on the fact that the U.S. had naively adopted the previous administration’s policy on Pakistan – giving money to Pakistan with no strings attached.
“Pakistan is a master at playing the Americans,” he said, speaking to Indian news outlet NDTV.
“Certainly just by withholding aid, the Pakistanis won’t relent,” Katju added. “If Trump wants to bring Pakistan to heel, he will have to apply far greater pressure.”