US to announce ‘specific actions’ against Pakistan over harboring Afghan terrorists

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The White House has called on Pakistan to do more to fight terrorism and said it will announce “specific actions” within days to pressure Islamabad, after U.S. President Donald Trump on January 1 threatened to cut off billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of being a safe haven for extremists the U.S. is hunting in Afghanistan, RFE/RL reported.

“We know that they can do more to stop terrorism and we want them to do that,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on January 2, adding that further action will be announced within 48 hours.

The White House warning came after the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told reporters in New York that “there are clear reasons” for the Trump administration to withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan.

“Pakistan has played a double game for years,” Haley said. “They work with us at times, and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan. That game is not acceptable to this administration.”

Pakistanl’s UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi responded that her country’s fight against terrorism is not based on any consideration of aid but on national interests and principles.

Earlier on January 2, Pakistan and Washington traded charges over Islamabad’s record on pursuing terrorists, with Pakistan criticizing a Twitter post by President Donald Trump that threatened to cut of billions of dollars in aid and accused Islamabad of “lies and deceit” and providing a safe haven for terrorists.

Pakistan’s National Security Committee, a body that deals with defense issues, said the U.S. criticism stems from Washington’s failure to win its 16-year war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and said that Pakistan “cannot be held responsible for the collective failure in Afghanistan.”

The statement said “blaming allies certainly does not serve the shared objective of achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s office said Islamabad will remain committed to playing a constructive role toward an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process despite “unwarranted allegations.”

The prime minister’s statement said the real challenges in Afghanistan were political infighting, massive corruption, phenomenal growth of drug production, and the expansion of ungoverned spaces inside Afghanistan full of sanctuaries for multiple international terrorist organizations that pose a direct threat to Afghanistan, its neighbors, and the region.

Earlier on January 2, Pakistan summoned U.S. Ambassador David Hale in response to Trump’s January 1 Twitter message and accused the United States of “mistrust.”

Trump’s tweet , his first of 2018, said that the United States had “foolishly” given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, “and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools.”

Sergey Kwan

TCA