Pakistan’s military said Friday the suspension of U.S. assistance will undermine bilateral security cooperation and regional peace efforts but will not deter the Pakistan’s counterterrorism resolve.
“Pakistan never fought for money but for peace,” army spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor told VOA.
The Trump administration announced Thursday it was suspending hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance to Pakistan until the latter takes “decisive action” against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.
The militant groups allegedly operate out of Pakistani territory and conduct attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
“Suspension of security assistance will not affect Pakistan’s resolve to fight terrorism; however, it for sure will have an impact on Pakistan-U.S. security cooperation and efforts towards regional peace,” noted General Ghafoor.
Military-led counterterrorism operations, he added, have targeted terrorists “indiscriminately,” including Haqqanis at a “heavy cost of blood and treasure.” There are no more “organized” terrorist sanctuaries inside Pakistan, Ghafoor maintained.
“Casting doubts on our will is not good to our common objective of moving toward enduring peace and stability. Pakistan shall continue its sincere efforts in best interest of Pakistan and peace,” the army spokesman said.
In a separate statement Friday, the Foreign Ministry criticized and dismissed the U.S. move as “arbitrary deadlines” and “unilateral pronouncements.” It asserted that Islamabad has fought the anti-terrorism war “largely” from its financial resources.
The ministry defended Pakistan’s successes in countering regional terrorism and underscored “mutual respect and trust along with patience and persistence” for working toward enduring peace.
“Emergence of new and more deadly groups such as Daesh in Afghanistan call for enhancing international cooperation. Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing common threats,” the Pakistani statement said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
The war of words between the two countries was triggered by U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweet on Monday in which he threatened to slash funding for Pakistan, accusing it of providing a haven to terrorists and playing U.S. leaders for “fools.”
In his Twitter comments, Trump said Washington has received “nothing but lies and deceits” in return for giving Pakistan more than $33 billion in the last 15 years.
Islamabad denounced the comments as “completely incomprehensible” and reiterated its pledge to work with Washington to fight terrorism and stabilize neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistani leaders say the United States is scapegoating their country for the U.S.’s Afghan “failures.”
A leading opposition politician, Imran Khan, Friday demanded the government categorically refuse to accept any future U.S. assistance in the wake of Trump’s remarks.