In an evolving political drama over US aid to Pakistan, President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday supporting Senator Rand Paul's proposal for a bill to end all American aid to Islamabad.
Good idea Rand! https://t.co/55sqUDiC0s
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
On Friday, the Trump administration announced it was suspending more than $1.15 billion worth security assistance to Pakistan until the country resolves to fight against local militants who have attacked US troops in Afghanistan.
What I find particularly troubling is that the U.S. continues to fund, we continue to give money to Pakistan over a billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer money is sent to Pakistan. I'll be introducing legislation to end their funding and use that money here at home. pic.twitter.com/xBpdlo3Otm — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 5, 2018
"I'm introducing a bill to end aid to Pakistan in the coming days. My bill will take the money that would have gone to Pakistan and put it in an infrastructure fund to build roads and bridges here at home," Republican senator Paul had said after the administration's decision was announced.
"US should not give one penny to countries that burn our flag and chant Death to America. Countries like Pakistan that stonewall access to key information in fighting terrorism don't deserve our money," he said. "We should stop now sending hard earned tax dollars to Pakistan. We sent Pakistan over $33 billion since 2002. What did we get for? Pakistan didn't even help us find (Osama) bin Laden even though he was living in one of their cities for years," he alleged.
The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes days after President Donald Trump, in a new year tweet, accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for $33 billion aid over the last 15 years.
Prominent among the suspended amount includes $255 million in foreign military funding for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by Congress. In addition, the Department of Defence has suspended the entire $900 million of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) money to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017.
The rhetoric has raised hackles in Islamabad and fears the row could undermine Pakistan's support for US operations in Afghanistan.
The announcement ignited some small protests in Pakistan on Friday, including in Chaman, one of the two main crossings on the border with Afghanistan where several hundred people gathered to chant anti-US slogans. "We don't need any type of aid. Almighty Allah is with us and he is giving us everything," protester Mohammad Saleem said, adding that he had a message for Trump: "Don't threaten us."
But Pakistan's foreign ministry issued a cautious statement in which it said it was "engaged" with US officials and awaiting further details.
Without referring to the decision directly, it warned that "arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing common threats."
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jan 06, 2018 12:33 PM | Updated Date: Jan 06, 2018 12:33 PM