Pakistan summons US ambassador after Trump’s angry tweet

In this Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he arrives for a New Year’s Eve gala at his Mar-a-Lago resort, in Palm Beach, Florida Trump slammed Pakistan for ‘lies & deceit’ in a New Year’s Day tweet that said Islamabad had played US leaders for ‘fools’. ‘No more,’ Trump tweeted. Meanwhile, Pakistan had no official comment but Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted that his government was preparing a response that ‘will let the world know the truth.’ (AP/Evan Vucci, File)
Updated 02 January 2018
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Pakistan summons US ambassador after Trump’s angry tweet

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan summoned the US ambassador in protest against US President Donald Trump’s angry tweet about Pakistan’s “lies and deceit,” while Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif dismissed the outburst as a political stunt.
David Hale was summoned by the Pakistan foreign office on Monday to explain Trump’s tweet, media said. A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Islamabad confirmed the meeting took place.
In a withering attack, Trump on Monday said the United States had “foolishly” handed Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit.”
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump’s harsh words drew praise from Pakistan’s old foe, India, and neighboring Afghanistan, but long-time ally China defended Pakistan’s record of combating “terrorism.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday will chair a cabinet meeting that will focus on Trump’s tweet, while on Wednesday the country’s top civilian and military chiefs will meet to discuss deteriorating US ties.
Relations between United States and its uneasy ally Pakistan have been strained for many years over Islamabad’s alleged support for Haqqani network militants, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban.
The United States also alleges senior Afghan Taliban commanders live on Pakistani soil. In 2016, the then-Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was killed by a US drone strike inside Pakistan and in 2011, Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found and killed by US troops in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.
Washington has signalled to Pakistan that it will cut aid and enact other punitive measures if Islamabad does not stop helping or turning a blind eye to the Haqqani network militants who carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.
Islamabad bristles at the suggestion it is not doing enough in the war against militancy, saying that since 2001, Pakistan has suffered more than the United States from militancy as casualties at the hands of extremists number in the tens of thousands.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Asif dismissed Trump’s comments as a political stunt borne out of frustration over US failures in Afghanistan, where Afghan Taliban militants have been gaining territory and carrying out major attacks.
“He has tweeted against us (Pakistan) and Iran for his domestic consumption,” Asif told Geo TV on Monday.
“He is again and again displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in dead-end street in Afghanistan.”
Asif added that Pakistan did not need US aid.
A US National Security Council official on Monday said the White House did not plan to send $255 million in aid to Pakistan “at this time” and said “the administration continues to review Pakistan’s level of cooperation.” In August, the administration had said it was delaying the payment.
Afghan and Indian officials applauded Trump’s abrasive comments.
“His Excellency President Trump has declared the reality. Pakistan has never helped or participated in tackling terrorism,” General Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghan ministry of Defense, told Reuters.
Jitendra Singh, a junior minister at the Indian Prime Minister’s Office, said Trump’s posturing has “vindicated India’s stand as far as terror is concerned and as far as Pakistan’s role in perpetrating terrorism is concerned.”
But China gave Pakistan its backing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, asked during a regular briefing about Trump’s tweet, did not mention the United States but defended Pakistan’s contributions in counter-terrorism.
“We have said many times that Pakistan has put forth great effort and made great sacrifices in combating terrorism. It has made a prominent contribution to global anti-terror efforts,” he said.
“The international community should fully recognize this.”
Pakistani officials say tough US measures threaten to push Pakistan further into the arms of China, which has deepened ties with Islamabad after pledging to invest $57 billion in infrastructure as part of its vast Belt and Road initiative.
Analysts say Trump’s tweet signals that the fraught US-Pakistan ties are likely to worsen in 2018.
“The trend lines have not been good, and the tweet gives an indication of the turmoil that awaits in 2018,” said Michael Kugelman, the senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center.


Ozil’s resignation sparks Germany racism storm as Ankara cheers

Updated 6 min 26 sec ago
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Ozil’s resignation sparks Germany racism storm as Ankara cheers

BERLIN: Mesut Ozil’s decision to quit playing for Germany unleashed a racism storm in Berlin on Monday, but earned the applause of Ankara with a Turkish minister hailing “a goal against the virus of fascism.”
After months of silence over a controversial photograph with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May, which sparked questions about his loyalty to Germany, Ozil erupted on Sunday.
The Arsenal midfielder posted a stinging four-page statement taking aim at German Football Association (DFB) bosses, sponsors and the media.
Ozil, a key member of the squad which won the 2014 World Cup, blamed the DFB management, in particular its president Reinhard Grindel, for failing to side with him against his critics.
“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil wrote.
The 29-year-old said he was true to both his Turkish and German origins and insisted he did not intend to make a political statement by appearing with Erdogan just before the World Cup finals.
“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish,” said Ozil, who was repeatedly singled out for criticism after Germany’s woeful performance at the World Cup saw them crash out after the group stages.
Ozil’s explosive statement, in three separate postings on Twitter and Instagram, was hailed by Erdogan’s government, which has championed a campaign against what Ankara sees as growing Islamophobia in Europe.
“I congratulate Mesut Ozil who by leaving the national team has scored the most beautiful goal against the virus of fascism,” Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul wrote on Twitter.
But it was met with a mix of dismay and outrage in Germany.
Underlining that sports brings a lot to integration in a country, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she respects Ozil’s decision.
“The chancellor values Mesut Ozil highly. He is a great footballer who has contributed a great deal to the national team,” said Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer, adding that he has “now made a decision that must be respected.”
Justice Minister Katarina Barley wrote on Twitter that it was an “alarm bell if a great German footballer like Mesut Ozil no longer feels wanted in his country or represented by the DFB.”
Cem Ozdemir of the Greens party also voiced dismay that “young German-Turks now get the impression that they have no place in the German national team.”
At the same time, Ozdemir, who himself has Turkish roots, said Ozil “did not live up to his function of setting examples” by failing to distance himself from the hard-line Turkish leader.
Germany’s best-selling newspaper Bild led the charge of criticism against Ozil, calling his statement a “whiny resignation” and said he heaped “criticism on everyone but himself.”
Bild, which has for weeks called for Ozil to be dropped from the starting team, also rejected his claims that his Turkish origin and Erdogan photo have been used by some media to pander to the far-right.
“Ozil’s world view here is dangerously close to Erdogan and his despots,” charged the tabloid-style daily.
The photo, which was published on Turkey’s presidential website and the Twitter feed of the ruling party, came just before the June 24 polls Erdogan won to claim sweeping new powers.
Ozil has insisted that “it wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.”
For Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, “all parties in the affair should engage in some soul-searching. I see few here who have really behaved correctly.”
Born and raised in Gelsenkirchen, Ozil has scored 23 goals and made 40 assists in 92 appearances with Die Mannschaft. He is third-generation German-Turk and counts among more than three million people of Turkish origin in Germany.
The DFB has so far stayed mum. In a first reaction from his former teammates, defender Jerome Boateng wrote on Twitter using the Turkish word for “brother“: “It was a pleasure, Abi.”
Former DFB chief Theo Zwanziger warned that the debacle was a “serious blow to the integration efforts in our country that goes beyond football.”
For Tagesspiegel daily, the entire affair was a “watershed for sports, politics and society.”
While noting that Ozil’s thinking that the Erdogan photograph could be non-political was “naive,” it said the fiasco had far reaching consequences.
“Ultimately, Ozil did not fall because of Grindel but because of a heated, populist mood in Germany,” it said.
“The danger exists because many who also have family roots in other countries or culture, can understand Ozil’s mood. And this needs to be countered quickly and decisively.
“Because more is at stake than just the future of the German national football team.”