New Delhi: In a significant boost to India’s efforts to isolate Pakistan, US President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to discontinue financial aid to Islamabad, which he accused of “lying and deceit".
“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 and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools," Trump said in a Twitter post. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"
Pakistan’s foreign minister said the government will react soon.
“We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly inshallah ... Will let the world know the truth … difference between facts and fiction," Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said.
The shift in the US policy doesn’t seem to be a knee-jerk reaction by the Trump administration. It is the latest in a series of measures the administration has taken to corner Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism.
In August, Trump, in a clear warning to Pakistan, had said that the next pillar in the US strategy will a change in the approach in dealing with Pakistan. He also said that a “critical part" of his South Asia policy is to boost the US’s strategic partnership with India.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars; at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately," Trump had said, adding that it was time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order and peace.
In October, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson during his India visit, had said that in the “fight against terrorism, the US will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with India" and “terrorist safe havens will not be tolerated".
Experts said India should wait and watch how the US’s Pakistan policy evolves and whether the latter’s attitude changes.
“No US president has said it in as many words before but it is not likely to bring any fundamental change in Pakistan’s behaviour. For US to use such words, it means Pakistan is getting increasingly isolated internationally... But it is not going to hurt Pakistan very much. Pakistan is likely to say that it doesn’t matter much to them and (that it) has assistance from other sources like China. It could certainly bring them closer," said former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh.
“So while the US president may vent out his frustration, it doesn’t quite change the nature of US’s relationship with Pakistan. We know from experience that when it’s a tweet from President Trump it’s a statement of opinion and not a statement of policy," Mansingh added.
Experts also said Trump needed to follow up his tweet with policy decisions.
“Just the tweet by the US president cannot be taken too seriously. We will realise US is very serious if one day we get information that some significant action has been taken against Pakistan. In regard to concerns about Pakistan getting closer to China, they already have a very close relationship," said Ajay Darshan Behera, professor at the Academy of International Studies at the Jamia Millia Islamia University.