Pakistan summons US ambassador over Trump tweet

This file photo shows US President Donald Trump speaking about his administration’s National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC on Dec. 18, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 02 January 2018

Pakistan summons US ambassador over Trump tweet

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador to protest against a tweet by President Donald Trump that accused Islamabad of providing “safe haven to terrorists” and deceiving Washington in the war on terror.
Ambassador David Hale visited the Foreign Office late Monday to discuss the tweet, US Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said Tuesday.
This latest diplomatic row broke out when Trump, in his first tweet of the year, said the US had “foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years,” and had not received anything in return “but lies & deceits.”
This elicited a swift response from Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, who said: “Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance.”
Asif said US financial assistance was reimbursement of expenses that Pakistan incurred in operations against militants, and compensation for logistical facilities made available to coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan.
“We are ready to account for all the financial assistance that Pakistan has received from the US,” he said. “All the monetary assistance was properly audited.”
Asif said Pakistan’s foreign policy is designed to protect the country’s national interests, adding: “We will protect our territorial integrity at all cost.”
Pakistan’s Defense Ministry tweeted: “Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intelligence cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs.”
The ministry added: “They (the Americans) have given us nothing but invective & mistrust. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis.”
Former diplomat Asif Ezidi told Arab News: “Pakistan is a sovereign country, and will formulate its foreign policy to protect its national interest rather than do America’s bidding in the region.”
Ezidi advised Pakistan not to take Trump’s tweet seriously, saying: “We should be humble and calculated in our response to the US, and try to thaw our relations with that country.”
While the media and policymakers in both countries have frequently accused each other of betrayal and duplicity, US officials have publicly lauded Pakistan’s contributions against religious militancy on many occasions.
Trump’s strongly worded tweet constitutes a departure from that policy, and came just a few days after Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal told Arab News that Islamabad did not want any US financial assistance.
Defense analyst Talat Masood told Arab News that Trump’s tweet is “aggressive and against diplomatic norms.”
But Masood said Pakistan should be careful in its response because “we already have deteriorated relations with our neighbors, including India, and Washington may exploit this to further corner us in the region.”

In Texas, Trump and Modi vow relentless fight on extremists

Updated 43 min 12 sec ago

In Texas, Trump and Modi vow relentless fight on extremists

  • Taking the flavor of one of Trump’s own boisterous rallies, Modi later asked the crowd to give a standing ovation to Trump for his stance

HOUSTON: US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday declared themselves united in a relentless fight against “terrorism,” vowing a close, personal alliance in front of tens of thousands of Indian-Americans.

The two leaders, like-minded nationalists fond of fiery rallies and skeptical of traditional media, heaped praise on each other in an unusual joint appearance inside a football stadium in Houston.

To the bhangra beats of four drummers in saffron turbans, Trump in his dark suit and Modi in a yellow kurta and vest made a grand entrance with arms clenched together to ecstatic cheers from a crowd estimated by organizers at 50,000.

Trump won his biggest applause when he told the crowd, many wearing the saffron of India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, “We are committed to protecting innocent civilians from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.”

Taking the flavor of one of Trump’s own boisterous rallies, Modi later asked the crowd to give a standing ovation to Trump for his stance.

Protesters gathered outside of the NRG Stadium with placards and shirts that said, “Free Kashmir” and accused Modi of violating religious freedom — a cause frequently evoked by the Trump administration.

The event — dubbed, with a Texan twang, “Howdy, Modi!” — was billed as the largest gathering ever by a foreign leader other than the pope in the US.

Hoping to ensure that it remains bipartisan, organizers also invited prominent Democrats.

Presidential contender Bernie Sanders, who did not attend, was more direct, saying that Trump showed a “deafening silence” on the clampdown in Kashmir.

“I know that when a president stays silent in the face of religious persecution, repression and brutality, the dangerous message this sends to authoritarian leaders around the world is, ‘Go ahead, you can get away with it,’” Sanders wrote in the Houston Chronicle.

Speaking of his record as if on the campaign trail, Trump made no mention of many Indians’ concerns over US visa policy — but highlighted his efforts to turn back undocumented immigrants from Central America.

Hardly known for his celebrations of ethnic diversity, Trump said to Indian-Americans, “We love you.”

“You enrich our culture, you uphold our values, you uplift our communities and you are truly proud to be American — and we are proud to have you as Americans,” he said.

Sporting a vest in yellow embroidery from Modi’s home state of Gujarat as well as a cap in the Indian tricolor, Bhavin Parikh of Sacramento, California said he wanted to show support for Modi and called the event “historic” due to Trump’s presence.

But he demurred on whether the gathering indicated backing Trump.

“It is not a question of Democrat or Republican. It’s the American president supporting the Indian prime minister,” he said.