In one of his first tweets of the new year, U.S. President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of deceiving the United States and harboring terrorists while accepting billions of dollars in foreign aid, an equation that would no longer be tolerated.
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. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
Along with the tweet came reports that the U.S. is likely to withhold more than $250 million in aid that it delayed sending to Islamabad in August, due to Pakistan’s perceived failure to crack down more effectively on terror groups.
Zahid Hussain, a security analyst, told Al Jazeera that Trump’s “crude” message does not come as a surprise.
“We have seen that relations between Washington and Islamabad have been strained for some time and they are increasingly becoming hostile,” he told Al Jazeera by phone from Islamabad.
He said the Trump administration’s tough rhetoric and growing pressure on Pakistan reflects “US frustration at not achieving any stability in Afghanistan after more than 16 years of conflict”.
Michael Kugelman, a US-based analyst and Asia Program Deputy Director at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, DC, called Trump’s tweet “highly undiplomatic” but estimated that the “harsh rhetoric is meant to foreshadow an impending harder policy line”, such as a significant cut in military assistance.
“No matter how you slice it, Pakistan-US relations are in for a very rough ride,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Both sides have effectively dug in their heels, with the US demanding Pakistan do more against terror and Pakistan insisting it has already done so much and won’t do any more.
“This puts the relationship on a collision course. I don’t expect a full rupture in ties, as each side benefits from some semblance of a workable relationship, but there will be dark days ahead.”