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."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, asked during a regular briefing about Trump's tweet, did not mention the United States but defended Pakistan's contributions in counter-terrorism."We have said many times that Pakistan has put forth great effort and made great sacrifices in combating terrorism. It has made a prominent contribution to global anti-terror efforts," he said. "The international community should fully recognize this."
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-Qaida 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. "He is again and again displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in dead-end street in Afghanistan." Asif added that Pakistan did not need U.S. aid.
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