Pakistan’s PM, military meet to respond to Trump’s criticism
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will meet powerful Pakistani generals on Thursday to formulate a response to the new US policy in Afghanistan, including further pressure on Islamabad to do more to control militants.
President Donald Trump punished Pakistan for hosting “chaos agents” and to shelter militant groups involving an insurgency against a US-backed government in Kabul, saying Islamabad must quickly change tactics.
White House officials went further and threatened cuts in aid and military as well as other measures to force the armed Pakistan’s hand and end the 16-year war.
Abbasi has yet to respond to Trump’s remarks, but Chancellor Khawaja Asif said Washington should not use Pakistan as a “scapegoat” for its failures in America’s longest war. Pakistan refuses to welcome activists.
As is often the case with Pakistan, the final decision on how to rest with the army, which has dominated the country for almost half of its 70-year history. He calls shots on key elements of Pakistan’s foreign policy, including ties with the United States, Afghanistan and India to the bow.
Army commander Qamar Javed Bajwa who will be part of the National Security Council meeting met Thursday earlier US ambassador David Hale and said Islamabad wanted confidence and understanding instead of money from US aid.
Pakistani officials are battling what they say: the lack of respect in Washington for the country’s sacrifices in the war against militancy and its success against groups like Al Qaeda, the Islamic State or the Taliban Pakistan.
Pakistan believes there were 70,000 victims of militant attacks since joining the United States’ “war on terrorism” following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
“We believe that the US administration led by M. Trump was completely unilateral, unjust to Pakistan and does not like and does not recognize that Pakistan was a major player … in the campaign against terrorism,” Senator Mushahid Hussain , Chair of the Senate Defense Committee.
Pakistani authorities were also annoyed by Trump imploring the former rival India to play a more important role in rebuilding Afghanistan, warning that a greater role of India in Kabul could pose a threat to regional peace.
Pakistan fears that New Delhi’s biggest influence in Afghanistan will let it emerge for India, its largest neighbor against which it has fought three wars since independence in 1947.
Analysts also warned against putting more pressure on Pakistan that could push Islamabad deeper into the arms of China, its northern neighbor that invests nearly $ 60 billion in Infrastructure projects as part of its Belt and Road initiative.
Senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi told Secretary Rex Tillerson for a phone call, the United States should assess Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and meet its security concerns, according to Chinese state media.
“Things have changed since September 11,” Hussain added.
“The United States today has much more weight and influence in the region and we have much more space and strategic options in our foreign policy.”