Pakistan summons US envoy to protest Trump’s bin Laden remarks
Pakistan has summoned the US chargé d’affaires to protest the “baseless” accusations leveled against Islamabad by US President Donald Trump, who has criticized the Asian country’s role in fighting terrorism and the capture of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“The Foreign Secretary called in the U.S. CdA Ambassador Paul Jones to register a strong protest on the unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations made against Pakistan,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
Trump, during a Fox News TV interview aired on Sunday, defended canceling assistance worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan earlier this year because “they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.”
The US president suggested Pakistani authorities knew bin Laden’s location prior to his killing by US troops in a raid inside Pakistan in 2011. He said bin Laden had been living in “a nice mansion” in Pakistan next to a military academy and “everybody in Pakistan knew he was there.”
On Monday, Trump tweeted again and doubled down on those claims.
“Rejecting the insinuations about OBL (Osma bin Laden), Foreign Secretary reminded the US CdA that it was Pakistan’s intelligence cooperation that provided the initial evidence to trace the whereabouts of OBL,” the ministry said, adding that “baseless rhetoric about Pakistan was totally unacceptable.”
Earlier on Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran, who is known for his fiery anti-American rhetoric, defended his country’s record in Washington’s so-called war on terror, saying that “record needs to be put straight on Mr. Trump’s tirade against Pakistan.”
Khan also said that Trump’s administration was making Pakistan a scapegoat to cover Washington’s failure in Afghanistan.
The premier went on to say that Pakistan had borne the brunt of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
“Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US ‘aid’ was a minuscule $20 bn,” he added.
The latest friction threatens to further worsen already fragile relations between Islamabad and Washington.
In August last year, the American president also in a major speech outlining US policy on Afghanistan accused Islamabad of offering safe haven to “agents of chaos.”
Successive US governments have criticized Pakistan for what they call links with the Taliban and for harboring bin Laden.
Washington has also long accused Pakistan of ignoring or even collaborating with groups which attack Afghanistan from safe havens along the border between the two countries. Pakistan denies supporting Afghan Taliban militants.
In addition, Pakistan and Afghanistan also regularly accuse each other of sheltering their enemy militants. Both sides, however, deny such an allegation.
Afghanistan has been gripped by insecurity since the US and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.
US forces have been bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Trump.
Militants are now launching attacks on both Pakistani and Afghan soil.
Pakistan, which joined the US war on terror in 2001, says it has paid the price for the alliance.