by Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn
Pakistan has suspended military and intelligence cooperation with the United States in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s allegation that Pakistan has given the US “nothing but lies and deceit” and suspension of security aid for Pakistan, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said while addressing a gathering at Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Speaking during a seminar titled ‘Contours of Security Environment of Pakistan’, Khan said the US is facing defeat in Afghanistan despite spending billions of dollars. He alleged that the US is using Pakistan as a ‘scapegoat’ for its failures in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan does not want to put a price on its sacrifices but wants them to be recognised,” the defence minister said, adding that Pakistan will not allow Afghanistan’s war to be fought on Pakistani territory.
Khan also said that the US is busy in a blame game against Pakistan rather than providing it with assistance to secure the Pak-Afghan border.
The US Embassy in Islamabad said it had not been informed about the suspension of military cooperation by Pakistan.
“We have not received any formal communication regarding a suspension,” Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said, according to VOA news.
Answering a question during the seminar, the defence minister said that Pakistan took the right steps by blocking Nato supplies to Afghanistan in the aftermath of 2011 attack at Salala check post.
But Pakistan is not taking the same route after Trump’s recent tirade as it is a “leverage we want to use at the appropriate time”, he clarified.
The defence minister said Iran, China and Russia are as important to the region as the US and reaffirmed Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s statement signalling that the alliance between Pakistan and the US is over.
“This is not how allies behave,” Asif had said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. He maintained that Washington has turned Islamabad into a “whipping boy” for its failures in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon on Monday said that the US has told Pakistan what it must do if it wants Washington to resume paying out hundreds of millions of dollars in security aid.
“Our expectations are straightforward,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning told reporters.
“Taliban and Haqqani leadership and attack planners should no longer be able to find safe haven or conduct operations from Pakistani soil.”
In the new year, Washington has increased pressure on Islamabad to “do more” in the fight against terrorism.
Washington has stated that the suspension of military aid, which came after Trump accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit”, is part of America’s South Asia strategy.
The development has followed in the aftermath of an increasingly terse back-and-forth between Washington and Islamabad since Trump announced the policy.
In Pakistan, the move has been seen as the first step to implementing Trump’s pledge to tighten economic restrictions on Islamabad.
Despite the tension, however, US and Pakistani officials remain in contact with each other. US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Friday said that the Pentagon was maintaining its communication with the Pakistani military establishment even after the suspension of military assistance.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua has said that Pakistan will continue to engage with Washington as far as possible, because America is not only a global power but also has a regional presence, and “for us it’s almost our neighbour”.