ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday alleged that US President Donald Trump’s recent remarks against his country showed that he was “talking in the language of India”.
Briefing the Parliamentary Committee on National Security about tension between Pakistan and the US following Trump’s remarks, Asif said the US was making Islamabad a scapegoat for its failure in Afghanistan.
Earlier this week, Trump had tweeted that “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!”
Sources privy to the discussion at the meeting said Asif told lawmakers, “Trump was speaking in the language of India”. “The statements from the US leaders are contrary to the facts,” Asif said.
Meanwhile, amid reports that the Trump administration was set to announce more drastic steps against Islamabad, the Pakistan Army said the country would respond to any US action in line with the aspirations of the people.
“In case of (a) US action against Pakistan, it will be responded to (in line with) the aspirations of the people of Pakistan,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor said in a brief statement.
It is not clear whether the Pakistan Army issued the statement in anticipation of some possible unilateral action against Pakistan, The Express Tribune reported.
National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, who heads the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, told the media after the meeting on Thursday that there should be a “balanced response” to the statements from the US. “The country’s dignity should be maintained, while engaging with the US,” he said. He said the committee has decided to reconvene next week for a briefing by security agencies.
The closed-door meeting came at the heels of a high-level National Security Committee meet and the cabinet meeting earlier this week. Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir was also present at the meeting.
Dastagir said when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis visited Pakistan, they presented their stance in accordance with diplomatic norms and the talks were not threatening and insulting, Geo TV reported.
“(But) this was present in Trump’s tweet and before that US Vice President Mike Pence made the ‘put Pakistan on notice’ statement from Afghanistan,” the Defence Minister said, referring to the threatening tone of the US leaders.
“We need to have a holistic review of the entire situation. We are conducting a complete analysis and coolly formulating our response,” he said, adding that there should not be any doubts when it comes to the defence of Pakistan.
“The question is will America create a situation which will harm Pakistan…We are ready for this but still want to engage the US,” he shared.
Responding to Washington’s allegations, Maj Gen Ghafoor, the military’s media wing chief, said Pakistan had taken action against the Haqqani network. “Effects of action against the Haqqani network will be visible in due time,” he said.
Speaking to a private news channel, he said the country’s collective response to Trump’s tweet was a positive sign. He noted that Pakistan and the US were still allies, and the relationship between the two countries had gone through ups and downs. “We are allies and a war cannot be fought with allies,” he said.
“There are several occasions where Pakistan has sided with the US. At one time Pakistan had the option to become the ally of Russia but it opted to join hands with the US instead,” he said.
However, he said, in case the US took action against Pakistan, it would be responded to in accordance with the aspirations of the Pakistani people.