Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador in a rare public rebuke after Donald Trump lashed out at Islamabad with threats to cut aid over “lies” about militancy. Pakistan’s foreign office summoned David Hale on Monday to explain the US president’s comments, media said. A spokesperson for the US embassy in Islamabad confirmed that the meeting took place.
In a withering attack, Trump tweeted on Monday that the United States had “foolishly” handed Pakistan more than $33bn in aid in the last 15 years and had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit”.
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, will chair a cabinet meeting that will focus on Trump’s tweet, while on Wednesday the country’s top civilian and military chiefs will meet to discuss deteriorating US ties.
Relations between the US and Pakistan have been strained for years over Islamabad’s alleged support for Haqqani network militants, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban.
Washington has signalled that it will cut aid and enact other punitive measures if Islamabad does not stop helping or turning a blind eye to the Haqqani network militants who carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.
Islamabad has rejected suggestions it is not doing enough in the war against militancy, saying that since 2001 it has suffered more than the US with tens of thousands of casualties caused by Islamists.
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Khawaja Asif, dismissed Trump’s comments as a political stunt borne out of frustration over US failures in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has been gaining territory and carrying out major attacks.
“He has tweeted against us [Pakistan] and Iran for his domestic consumption,” Asif told Geo TV on Monday. “He is again and again displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in a dead-end street in Afghanistan.” He said Pakistan did not need US aid.
A US national security council official on Monday said the White House did not plan to send $255m in aid to Pakistan “at this time” and said “the administration continues to review Pakistan’s level of cooperation”. In August, the administration said it was delaying the payment.