Pakistan summoned the top U.S. diplomat in Islamabad yesterday to protest President Donald Trump's allegation that the country had harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden despite getting billions of dollars in American aid.
According to a statement, Foreign Secretary Tahmina Janjua told the U.S. diplomat, Paul Jones that "such baseless rhetoric ... was totally unacceptable." The statement also claimed that the cooperation from Pakistan's intelligence service had provided initial evidence that helped Washington trace bin Laden.
Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of harboring militants — a charge it denies. The friction threatens to further worsen already fragile relations between Islamabad and Washington, on-off allies who have repeatedly clashed about the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan's alleged support for militants.
U.S. commandos killed bin Laden in a May 2011 raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he had been living in seclusion in a house near a well-known military academy. Pakistan denies it knew bin Laden's whereabouts prior to the raid, which was carried out without its knowledge. It later arrested Dr. Shakil Afridi, who had run a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to help the CIA confirm bin Laden's whereabouts.
Trump said in an interview with "Fox News Sunday" that "everybody in Pakistan" knew bin Laden was there and no one said anything despite the United States providing $1.3 billion a year in aid. That statement created a furor in Islamabad.
New Prime Minister Imran Khan fired back, tweeting on Monday that Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties and lost $123 billion in the "U.S. War on Terror," despite the fact that no Pakistanis were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. He says the U.S. has only provided a "miniscule" $20 billion in aid.