'Baseless rhetoric about Pakistan totally unacceptable,' foreign secy tells US ambassador

ISLAMABAD (Dawn/ANN) - Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua says it was Pakistan’s intelligence cooperation that provided initial evidence to trace the whereabouts of bin Laden.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on Tuesday summoned United States Chargé d'Affaires (CdA) Ambassador Paul Jones to register a strong protest against the "unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations made against Pakistan" by US President Donald Trump over the last two days. 

According to a press statement, Janjua rejected the insinuations about Osama bin Laden made by Trump and reminded Jones that it was Pakistan’s intelligence cooperation that provided the "initial evidence to trace the whereabouts of bin Laden".

She also conveyed the "government's disappointment on the recent tweets and comments by the US president". The US CdA was told that such baseless rhetoric about Pakistan was totally unacceptable.

President Trump, while talking to Fox News on Sunday about the reasons for ending the over a billion dollar annual aid for Pakistan, said the country didn’t do “a damn thing for us”. He raked up allegations of global terror kingpin having lived in Pakistan with relative ease. “But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there,” said Trump.

He then repeated the same allegations in his tweets the next day, saying the US no longer pays billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan "because they would take our money and do nothing for us". 

Last year, former US president Barack Obama, under whom the bin Laden raid was carried out, while speaking at a summit had said: "We had no evidence that Pakistan was aware of his presence — that is something that we looked at."

Prime Minister Imran Khan hit back at Trump in a series of tweets. "Pakistan has suffered enough fighting US's war. Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests," he said. 

“Trump’s false assertions add insult to the injury Pak has suffered in US WoT in terms of lives lost & destabilised & economic costs. He needs to be informed about historical facts."

'Baseless allegations'

According to the statement issued on Tuesday, the foreign secretary told the US official that no other country had paid a heavier price than Pakistan in the fight against terrorism. "The US leadership had acknowledged on multiple
occasions that Pakistan’s cooperation had helped in decimating the core Al-Qaeda leadership and eradicating the threat of terrorism from the region.

"The US must not forget that scores of top AQ [Al-Qaeda] leaders were killed or captured by active Pakistani cooperation. Pakistan’s continued support to the efforts of international community in Afghanistan through Ground/ Air and Sea lines of communication was unquestionably critical to the success of this Mission in Afghanistan.

"In the wake of recent US pronouncements to seek political settlement in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US were working in close coordination with other regional stake holders in order to end the prolonged conflict," added the statement. "At this critical juncture, baseless allegations about a closed chapter of history could seriously undermine this vital cooperation." 

Pak-US ties dip to new low

The premier on Monday led the sharp reaction by political leaders to Trump’s tirade against Pakistan by hinting at review of foreign policy options and asking the US president to introspect on the real reasons for America’s failure in Afghanistan.

“Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140,000 Nato troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before,” PM Khan said in one of his four tweets in response to Trump’s remarks.

PM Khan reminded Trump that Pakistan’s support for the US in the war on terror cost it 75,000 casualties and over $123 billion in financial losses, tribal areas were devastated because of terrorist attacks and millions of people were displaced because of counterterrorism operations that had to be carried out to reclaim the area from terrorists.

Although US aid for Pakistan had been on decline since the last years of President Barack Obama as the strategic misalignment of the two countries grew, it was after Trump’s New Year tweet accusing Pakistan of “lies and deceit” that the security aid was ended.

Trump has been consistent in his criticism of Pakistan since he launched his South Asia and Afghanistan strategy despite multiple attempts made by the two governments to fix the problems in their ties.

While Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who has been spearheading the most recent attempt at rebooting US ties, had appeared optimistic about progress in ties after his meetings with American leaders, Trump’s latest remarks indicate that underlying irritants that have kept the relationship unstable remain unaddressed.

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