Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador in protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s angry tweet about Pakistan’s “lies and deceit”, while Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif dismissed the outburst as a political stunt.
David Hale was summoned by the Pakistan foreign office on Monday to explain Trump’s tweet, media said. A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad confirmed the meeting took place.
In a withering attack, Trump on Monday said the United States had “foolishly” handed Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit”.
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump’s harsh words drew praise from Pakistan’s old foe, India, and neighboring Afghanistan, but long-time ally China defended Pakistan’s record of combating “terrorism”.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday will chair a cabinet meeting that will focus on Trump’s tweet, while on Wednesday the country’s top civilian and military chiefs will meet to discuss deteriorating U.S. ties.
Relations between United States and its uneasy ally Pakistan have been strained for many years over Islamabad’s alleged support for Haqqani network militants, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban.
The United States also alleges senior Afghan Taliban commanders live on Pakistani soil. In 2016, the then-Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was killed by a U.S. drone strike inside Pakistan and in 2011, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. troops in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.
Washington has signaled to Pakistan that it will cut aid and enact other punitive measures if Islamabad does not stop helping or turning a blind eye to the Haqqani network militants who carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.
Islamabad bristles at the suggestion it is not doing enough in the war against militancy, saying that since 2001, Pakistan has suffered more than the United States from militancy as casualties at the hands of Islamists number in the tens of thousands.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Asif dismissed Trump’s comments as a political stunt borne out of frustration over U.S. failures in Afghanistan, where Afghan Taliban militants have been gaining territory and carrying out major attacks.
“He has tweeted against us (Pakistan) and Iran for his domestic consumption,” Asif told Geo TV on Monday.