Trump threatens to cut aid to Pakistan, a 'haven to terrorists'

In this file photo, President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before leaving the White House in Washington on Oct. 7, 2017. (AP)
Updated 01 January 2018
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Trump threatens to cut aid to Pakistan, a 'haven to terrorists'

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump lashed out at Pakistan on Monday in his first tweet of 2018, threatening to cut off aid over what he said were its “lies and deceit” in offering “safe haven to terrorists.”
“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,” Trump said as the new year kicked off.
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!“
Last week, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration was seriously weighing whether to withhold $255 million in already delayed aid to Islamabad over its failure to crack down more effectively on terror groups in Pakistan.
US-Pakistani ties, long contentious, have taken a nosedive under Trump, who in August declared that “Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror.”
Last month, Trump had already hinted that he may cut off the aid.
“We make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help,” he said in unveiling his national security strategy.
And in late December, Vice President Mike Pence told American troops during a visit to Afghanistan, “President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.”
The comments were an extension of repeated US warnings that Pakistan must stop offering cross-border havens to Taliban factions operating in Afghanistan as well as armed jihadist groups fighting US troops and their Afghan allies.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif responded to Trump’s tweet Monday, telling Geo television in an Urdu-language interview, “The United States should hold its own people accountable for its failures in Afghanistan.”
He said all funds from the US had been “properly audited” and that “services (were) rendered.”
Islamabad has repeatedly denied the accusations of turning a blind eye to militancy, lambasting the United States for ignoring the thousands who have been killed on its soil and the billions spent fighting extremists.
Lisa Curtis, who is the South and Central Asia director on Trump’s National Security Council, wrote in an article published in February that the “activities and operations of diverse terror groups on and from Pakistani soil, and the government’s failure to rein them in, threaten vital US national security interests in the region.”
“To accomplish US counterterrorism objectives in the region and to reverse extremist trends in Pakistani society, Pakistani authorities — specifically the country’s military leaders, who control its foreign and security policies — need to take a comprehensive approach to shutting down all Islamist militant groups that operate from Pakistani territory, not just those that attack the Pakistani state,” she said.
Trump first signaled that the US was reassessing its fractious relations with Pakistan in August, when he accused Islamabad of harboring “agents of chaos.”
The remarks triggered a series of high-level diplomatic meetings in the US and Pakistan, but Islamabad has given few signs of concessions.
After the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States, Washington forged a strategic alliance with Islamabad to help in its fight against terrorists. But US leaders have often complained that Pakistan, which once supported the Taliban, has done too little to help.


Nations defend UN Human Rights Council after US pullout

Empty seats of the United States delegation are pictured one day after the US announced their withdraw during a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 min 54 sec ago
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Nations defend UN Human Rights Council after US pullout

  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the US of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the UN
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US withdrawal

GENEVA: Diplomats from across the globe defended the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday after the US withdrew from a body it branded an anti-Israel “cesspool.”
Slovenian ambassador Vojislav Suc, who currently holds the council’s rotating presidency and has been pushing a faltering reform drive, described the Geneva-based chamber as the best place to trigger action on dangerous rights crises.
“Let me say it very clearly, if human rights issues are not discussed here, in this very room, they have little chance to be dealt with meaningfully anywhere else,” he told the council’s 38th session, hours after Washington announced its pullout.
Suc further praised the 47-member council as the “only intergovernmental body responding to human rights issues and situations worldwide.”
Once he receives formal notification of the US withdrawal, Suc said he would arrange for the American seat to be removed and work with the General Assembly to elect a replacement member. China, which has on multiple occasions voiced support for multilateral institutions abandoned by US President Donald Trump, portrayed the council as “a major body... to promote the realization of human rights.”
“All delegations attach great importance to this body,” said Chinese ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yu Jianhua.
China currently sits on the council and rights groups have repeatedly criticized Beijing for seeking to stifle criticism of its own conduct.
The EU assured that it “remains steadfastly and reliably committed to the Human Rights Council,” and said it would continue to try to fix the body’s problems despite the US withdrawal.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the US of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the UN.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN ambassador Nikki Haley announced the decision on Wednesday, making good on a threat Haley made in Geneva a year ago.
They said their calls for change, notably to fix “hypocrisy” and “unrelenting bias” against Israel were ignored.
Membership of the council, established in 2006 to replace the disgraced Human Rights Commission, has long been controversial.
Current members include Burundi, the Philippines and Venezuela — all nations accused of massive abuses against civilians.
But the main US objection was the council’s Agenda Item 7, which mandates discussion of Israel at each of the three annual sessions.
Israel is the only country recorded as a dedicated agenda item.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US withdrawal, experts and diplomats have noted that without US pushback, resolutions approving investigations of Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Palestinian Territories could multiply.