On New Years Day, President Trump kicked over an anthill with one tweet:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
In fact, even kleptocrats chimed in to point out how Pakistan’s rapaciousness exceeded the norms of civilized behavior:
President @realDonaldTrump tweet on Pakistan's duplicitous position over the past 15 years is vindication that the war on terror is not in bombing Afghan villages and homes but in the sanctuaries beyond Afghanistan. I welcome today's clarity in President Trump's remarks and…
— Hamid Karzai (@KarzaiH) January 1, 2018
That is a stunning number. In fact, apologists for Pakistan have already started to push back on the dollar figure by limiting what they call “aid.”
Pakistan Foreign Minister reacts to Trump's tweets: pic.twitter.com/OmdE3dvk7G
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) January 2, 2018
So, somehow taking $28 (or $22 or $16 or less) billion for unfulfilled promises of tackling terrorism is somehow better than taking $33 billion? 🙄 How about understanding others don’t owe us & promises must be kept to maintain international credibility? #Pakistan
— Husain Haqqani (@husainhaqqani) January 2, 2018
The number comes from Pakistani propaganda boasting about how Pakistan is immune from US financial pressure:
The US has sanctioned $33.4 billion for reimbursements to Pakistan during the past 15 years, 44% of which was on account of services that Islamabad rendered to support Washington’s anti-terror operations in Afghanistan.
This singular act denies Washington any meaningful chance to financially blackmail its non-Nato ally.
By excluding the $14.573 billion cost of logistics and aerial support, the approved civilian and security-related aid to Pakistan from 2002 to 2016 was only $18.8 billion, according to the statistics compiled by US authorities.
The data has been gathered by the departments of State, Defense, Agriculture, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The whole context is important. Our main supply route to our troops in Afghanistan is via Pakistan. Pakistan seems to think this gives it leverage to siphon off a lot of US money and do nothing in return. The administration has been prodding Pakistan to do more but it has responded to these entreaties with an erect and extended middle finger.
Whether by circumstance of timing or purposeful policy choice, U.S. leaders are renewing attention on Afghanistan under President Donald Trump with additional troops, intelligence, and resources, and they are renewing pressure on Pakistan to get back into the fight.
Pakistani leaders, once again, aren’t responding to the whip the way Washington would like. The latest sign: The Pakistani Senate last week passed a resolution recommending the government demand compensation from the U.S. for deaths and property damage caused by drone strikes. It has no power unilaterally to compel the U.S. to do so. But it is one of several moves politicians and military officials there have made in recent weeks pushing back on the demand that they should fall in line with Trump’s policy goals.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson redelivered that message when he visited Pakistan in October, as did Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during his trip to Islamabad this month. Mattis “reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country,” according to the Pentagon, but reportedly he toned down the administration’s threats to retaliate against Islamabad if Pakistani leaders did not cooperate as Trump demanded.
Instead, two weeks after Mattis’ visit the Pakistani Senate passed the resolution demanding compensation from the U.S. for future drone strikes .
Back in Pakistan, Trump’s threats have not gone unanswered. Earlier this month, the head of the Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, threatened to shoot down any U.S. drone in Pakistan’s airspace.
But privately, Pakistani officials reportedly refused to “do more” when Mattis asked during his visit this month. That refusal came just weeks after Pakistan released from house arrest against Washington’s objections one individual that the U.S. had listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
And after Osama bin Laden was found to be hiding within spitting distance of the Pakistani Military Academy and an infantry division, any doubt about Pakistani duplicity vanished.
India welcomed US President Donald Trump’s tough message to Pakistan on terrorism, saying that “our stand is vindicated as far as the role of Pakistan is concerned in perpetrating terrorism”. Trump ripped into Pakistan on Monday, declaring on Twitter that US had for years “foolishly” given aid to Islamabad that provided “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan”.
“The Trump administration decision has abundantly abundantly vindicated India’s stand as far as terror is concerned as far as the role of Pakistan is concerned in perpetrating terrorism because end of the day terrorist is a terrorist… terror is terror and it does not spare any single nation, any single country, any single region,” Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh said.
Our ambassador in Karachi was called in to “explain” Trump’s tweet (good freakin luck with that, Scooter):
David Hale was summoned by the Pakistani foreign office late on Monday to explain Trump’s tweet, media said. The ministry could not be reached for comment but the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad confirmed on Tuesday that a meeting had taken place.
Trump said the United States had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit” for “foolishly” giving Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years.
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he tweeted on Monday.
His words drew praise from Pakistan’s old foe, India, and neighboring Afghanistan, but long-time ally China defended Pakistan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday chaired a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting of civilian and military chiefs, focusing on Trump’s tweet. The meeting, which lasted nearly three hours, was brought forward by a day and followed an earlier meeting of army generals.
The NSC, in a statement issued by the prime minister’s office, did not name Trump but spoke of “deep disappointment” at a slew of critical comments coming from U.S. officials over the past few months.
“Recent statements and articulation by the American leadership were completely incomprehensible as they contradicted facts manifestly, struck with great insensitivity at the trust between two nations built over generations, and negated the decades of sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation,” it said.
In fact, the administration announced that it would not spend some $255 million in military aid that had been earmarked for Pakistan.
“The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in FY 2016 foreign military financing for Pakistan at this time,” a National Security Council spokesman said. “The President has made clear that the United States expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil, and that Pakistan’s actions in support of the South Asia strategy will ultimately determine the trajectory of our relationship, including future security assistance.”
They have managed to get Nikki Haley’s attention (we haven’t heard from Tillerson on this, very odd):
UN Amb. Nikki Haley says U.S. withholding $255 million in assistance to Pakistan. "Pakistan has played a double game for years…that game is not acceptable to this administration." https://t.co/CFdzczE0fE pic.twitter.com/tPYkAdP92R
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 2, 2018
And where would any story about Pakistan be without the Islamic-rage-boy mob?
Pakistanis hold mass rally in Karachi to denounce Trump's tweet against Pakistan. The US President threatens to cut off aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of harboring extremists. Protesters say Trump's move shows US anger over its defeat in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/HbazgpzLcM
— Press TV (@PressTV) January 2, 2018
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) January 2, 2018
But the Pakistani government called an emergency meeting of several hours’ length to discuss the US actions. And shortly afterward there was an announcement that the Pakistanis were shutting down two “charities” that have been functioning as terrorist fronts. The US has campaigned for some time to make this happen.
Ultimately, I think Pakistan will begin to do much more but still not enough. Pakistan’s problem is that it has fostered the feeder system for these terror groups as part of domestic political intrigue. And, contrary to what the Pakistanis may have convinced themselves, losing $255 million per year is going to hurt. Losing $2 billion is going to hurt a lot more.