In what could be understood as a blunt statement without worrying much about the implications, Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that Pakistan will not seek the resumption of suspended US military aid and feels “betrayed” by the recent critical statements of the American leadership against Islamabad’s fight against terrorism.
US President Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of providing safe havens for terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network fighting in war-torn Afghanistan.
In response to Trump’s tweet that the US had “foolishly” given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had gotten nothing in return but “lies & deceit”, Washington had confirmed that it will withhold nearly $2 billion in aid to Pakistan.
Gen Bajwa received two telephone calls from Commander US Central Command (CENTCOM) General Joseph L. Votel and one from an unidentified US Senator over the week to discuss Pak-US security cooperation post the President Trump tweet, the army spokesman said in a statement today.
He said that Gen Votel apprised Gen Bajwa about the US decision regarding Security Assistance and Coalition Support Fund and said that US values Pakistan’s role towards war on terror and expected that on-going turbulence remains a “temporary phase”.
“The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) reiterated that Pakistan will not seek resumption of aid but expect honourable recognition of our contributions, sacrifices and unwavering resolve in fight against terrorism for peace and stability in the region,” according to the statement.
The freezing of US military aid to Pakistan also includes $255 million due for military equipment and training under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund, and $700 million under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) – paid to the country for conducting operations against militant groups.
Gen Bajwa further said that Pakistan will keep supporting all initiatives for peace in Afghanistan despite the tendency to “scapegoat” Pakistan, as peace in Afghanistan is the only way to move towards enduring peace and stability in the region.
Gen Votel also conveyed that “US is not contemplating any unilateral action inside Pakistan but is seeking cooperation to tackle Afghan nationals who, in US view, use Pakistan’s soil against Afghanistan.”
“This view, he (Gen Votel) felt, was undermining in Washington, Pakistan’s contributions in war against terrorism,” the statement said.
The COAS said that entire Pakistani nation felt “betrayed” over US recent statements despite decades of cooperation and the unanimous national response reflected the same sentiments.
“The COAS said that Pakistan shall continue its sincere counter terrorism efforts even without US financial support in accordance with our national interest and shall remain committed to bring it to its logical conclusion along with other stake holders,” the statement said.
General Bajwa said that Pakistan has suffered hugely due to great power contestation in the region.
He also said that Pakistan is fully aware of US concerns on activities of Afghan nationals in Pakistan.
“We are already undertaking multiple actions through Operation ‘Radd ul Fasaad’ to deny any residual capacity to terrorists of all hue and colour for which return of Afghan refugees is an essential prerequisite, he said.