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Abbasi tells US they are wrong

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News Analysis |

Pakistan pledged to continue its effort for peace and stability in the region despite US’s suspension of security assistance. Foreign Office (FO) responded to US’s suspension of security aid by declaring that Pakistan has been fighting the war on terror mostly on its own budget. The US aid is nowhere near to the actual costs incurred by Pakistan. ‘Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing common threats’, said the Foreign Office.

The Foreign Office gave this statement in response to President Donald Trump’s new year tweet in which he lambasted the Pakistani government for their ‘lies and deceit’ and harboring terrorists in its soil.

The US also suspended Pakistan’s military aid and told Pakistan to earn the aid that it is given. So far, the Pakistani government has avoided any rash or harsh response to Trump’s accusation and the Foreign Office spokesperson assured that they will not stop their efforts in the war against terror. ‘We are determined to continue to do all it takes to secure the lives of our citizens and broader stability in the region’, the statement said.

The repercussions of cut in US military assistance are not clear yet but the government has assured that it was only a minute amount and poses no immediate threat to our defence and security.

The statement also said that Pakistan is engaged in talks with the US administration over security cooperation issues. It shows that the situation between the two countries might not be as terrible as it seems. Although, the Foreign Office did not shed light on the impact of the US’s military aid suspension, they insisted that Pakistan has been fighting the war mostly on its own; the war on terror cost Pakistan 120 billion dollars over 15 years, while only 22 billion dollars were received by Pakistan as military assistance.

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Foreign Office also complained that no action is taken by US for terrorist organizations in Afghanistan that are attacking Pakistan. The statement highlighted the past achievements of US-Pak cooperation which helped decimate the Al Qaeda and other military groups which were a threat to the peace of the whole region. Talks are underway between the Foreign Office and US State Department in which common objectives will be determined and worked on

In an interview to Guardian, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi stated that US financial aid was ‘very, very insignificant’ and Pakistan was on the forefront of the war. He reiterated the Foreign Office statement that Pakistan was fighting the war mostly on its own budget. Abbasi was bewildered over the announcement that US will cut its financial aid, stating that the actual amount was aid received was a tiny fraction of the amount claimed. “Today we are fighting terrorists. So if somebody says we are harbouring terrorists, there is no greater fallacy,” Abbasi said.

The statement came at time when tensions are high and the future of relationships between the two countries uncertain. The Foreign Office’s statement is encouraging since it hints towards behind the table talks between the two nations.

There is a large exercise underway in the Pakistani government to calculate the actual amount of aid received by Pakistan. The figures so far compiled show that Pakistan received a total of 5.32 billion dollars as civilian assistance, which is less than the promised amount. This is the total amount of aid received by the government and non-governmental organizations in Pakistan. The Kerry-Lugar bill signed in 2009-10 promised an aid of 7.5 billion dollars but it was later reduced to 4.3 billion after the Osama Bin Laden operation in Abbottabad. The government received only 2.5 billion dollars against this, which is half the amount promised.

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The Foreign Office also showed its disagreement over Pakistan’s addition to the special watch list recently set up by the US for countries with human right violations. The first country to be added. The statement pointed out that there are countries with a known record of systematic religious persecution, but they were not added to that list. The repercussions and implications of being added to the watch list are not known yet but the Foreign Office is in contact with US authorities to find out the details. It also expressed disappointment that Pakistan’s effort and achievements for protection of human rights were not acknowledged by the US, and that the constitution of Pakistan protects the rights of every religious minority.

Abbasi was bewildered over the announcement that US will cut its financial aid, stating that the actual amount was aid received was a tiny fraction of the amount claimed.

The statement came at time when tensions are high and the future of relationships between the two countries uncertain. The Foreign Office’s statement is encouraging since it hints towards behind the table talks between the two nations. Pakistan has also put up a good defence against Trump’s accusations and backed its claims with evidence. The repercussions of cut in US military assistance are not clear yet but the government has assured that it was only a minute amount and poses no immediate threat to our defence and security.


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