A day after bitter criticism of Pakistan from President Donald Trump, China supported Pakistan by lauding its efforts for “outstanding contribution against terrorism” which should be acknowledged by “the international community”.
At the regular press conference of the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, on Tuesday was asked: US President Donald Trump said on Monday that the US has been foolishly giving Pakistan more than US$33 billion in aid for counterterrorism over the past 15 years, and he vowed that this kind of treatment would end. Do you have a comment on this? China has heavily invested in Pakistan, so does China view US aid there as positive for stability and therefore Chinese interests?
“As we said multiple times before, Pakistan has made great efforts and sacrifices for combating terrorism and made prominent contributions to the cause of international counterterrorism, and the international community should fully recognize this,” Shuang responded adding: “We welcome Pakistan and other countries’ cooperation on counter-terrorism and in other fields on the basis of mutual respect and their joint commitment to the security and stability of the region and the world.”
Shuang went on to say that China and Pakistan have maintained the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership. China stands ready to further deepen cooperation with Pakistan in various fields to bring greater benefits to the two peoples.
The News, a leading English newspaper of Pakistan, said Trump’s uncalled-for criticism has sent shock waves amongst those who were encouraged by the trilateral meetings among Pakistan, Afghanistan and China where besides agreeing on other issues they also resolved to join hands to fight terror in the region.
This did not escape Geng Shuang who, when asked, whether Trump’s accusations would harm trilateral efforts among Pakistan, China and Afghanistan remarked that the three are closely linked not only geographically but also in terms of common interests and it is natural for them to enhance communication and exchanges.
“As neighbors linked by rivers and mountains and shared common interests and cultural origins, it’s natural and necessary for China, Afghan and Pakistan to conduct cooperation. We have reached many consensuses during the trilateral meeting in eight aspects. For example, the three parties agreed to further deepen coordination and cooperation in terms of fight against terrorism and indiscriminately crack down on terror groups and terrorists. I believe the three countries will follow through these consensuses reached by three for ministers and continuously step up counter terror cooperation,“ he said.
Indian analysts argue that U.S is mounting pressure on Pakistan as Islamabad has firmed up an alliance with Beijing by allowing heavy Chinese investments in the strategic CPEC providing China access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Turkey stands with Pakistan in wake of Trump tweet
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan telephoned on Wednesday President Mamnoon Hussain and expressed solidarity with Pakistan in the wake of Donald Trump’s scathing statement against Pakistan.
Turkish president expressed his disappointment over the recent statements of the US leadership, saying Pakistan had rendered unprecedented sacrifices in war against terrorism.
President Mamnoon said Pakistan is a responsible country and would give an appropriate response to the US statements, adding that Pakistan believed in the policy of engagement and cooperation and regretted that such approach was not reciprocated.
He expressed his gratitude to the Turkish leadership and the people for expressing unity with Pakistan, said a press release.
Pakistan decides to review ties with Washington
Pakistan has decided to review its relations with the United States and adopt a tough stance, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s recent statement, The Express Tribune reported Tuesday quoting informed sources.
Pakistan will highlight its sacrifices in the war against terrorism at the diplomatic front; and if the US reduces or suspends aid to Pakistan or places any sanctions, the country will completely revise its relations policy with the superpower, according to sources.
Pakistan, said the sources, would not accept any demands to do more, and could stop all kinds of cooperation with the US. The only response to any ‘do more’ demands will be ‘no more’. The future policy with the US would be limited to ‘cooperation for cooperation’ and relations based on equality. “This policy will be adopted gradually,” they added.
It is learnt that the foreign minister and other officials will contact friendly countries, including China, to take them into confidence. The high-ups are reviewing the recent statement by President Trump and the future relations with the US “which are turning from strained to tense”.
It is decided that Pakistan will make its decisions keeping in view its national security, and the US defence secretary had been told during his visit to Islamabad that Pakistan would not accept any dictation from the US against its national security.
He was also told that Pakistan was playing a role of frontline state in the war against terror. “There any no safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan, nor is Pakistan supporting any terrorist group directly or indirectly; and if US has any proof, it should hand it over to Pakistan.”
The sources based in Islamabad said that the US had failed to provide any proof and was blaming Pakistan just to cover up its failures in Afghanistan. “The Trump administration is pressuring Pakistan, but Pakistan will not accept any pressure and face the situation.”
Pakistan, according to the sources, has also decided to reduce dependency on the US in different fields and look for alternatives. It will also speed up the process of implementing its strategy for increasing diplomatic, trade and other relations with China, Russia and other countries.
US gave Pakistan lies and deceit, not the other way around: Musharraf
Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf says Pakistan has always been sincere to the US in fight against terrorism but it was the US, which betrayed Pakistan every now and then.
Talking to Express News, Musharraf said the money the US ‘spent’ on Pakistan was only because of the services the Pakistani nation rendered in fighting the war in its own backyard.
He noted that during his presidency, Pakistan always stood by the US but America would often backtrack on it promises.
Musharraf defended, as an apt decision, Pakistan’s joining of the war against terrorism September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. “The entire world, including China, was with the US against Taliban. We made the right decision to engage in the war and I still stand by it,” he remarked.
In case of US action, Pakistan is ready: DG ISPR
“In case of [a] US action against Pakistan, it will be responded to [in line with] the aspirations of the people of Pakistan,” said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor in a brief statement.
The statement came in the backdrop of the White House’s announcement that the US would announce specific measures against Pakistan in the next 24 to 48 hours after Trump’s stinging New Year tweet.
Responding to the oft-repeated 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 added.
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.”
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.
He said India’s destabilizing role was the biggest obstacle in regional peace, and it did not want Pakistan to succeed in its war against terrorism.
“The Coalition Support Fund (CSF) was meant for the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan and the United States are allies and they need to work together,” he added.
At the heart of the recent controversy is years of mistrust between the two countries, with the US accusing Pakistan of supporting the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, who are active against the US-backed administration in Kabul. Pakistan has always dismissed the allegations and insisted that its fight against terrorism is without any pick and choose.
The National Security Committee (NSC)
An official statement issued after a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, said Tuesday:
The participants of the meeting noted that over the past several years, Pakistan’s counterterrorism campaign had served as a bulwark against the possible expansion of scores of terrorist organisations currently present in Afghanistan — a fact acknowledged by US authorities at the highest levels.
Most of these terrorists have repeatedly launched cross-border attacks against innocent Pakistanis with impunity, exploiting the presence of millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the porous Pak-Afghan border and large tracts of ungoverned spaces inside Afghanistan.
The NSC observed that Pakistan had fought the war on terrorism primarily out of its own resources and at great cost to its economy. It noted that the sacrifices, such as the tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians and security personnel who had laid down their lives — and the pain of their families — could not be trivialised so heartlessly by assigning it an “imagined” monetary value.
“Even today, Pakistan [is] firmly supporting the US-led international effort in Afghanistan… continuously facilitating this through vital lines of communications for smooth counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan,” the meeting noted, adding that as a result of Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations, Al Qaeda had been decimated from the region.
It was mostly because of this support that Pakistan was suffering a brutal backlash, which included the killing of over a hundred schoolchildren by terrorists based in Afghanistan.
The real challenges in Afghanistan, the committee observed, are “political infighting, massive corruption, phenomenal growth of drug production and expansion of ungoverned spaces inside Afghanistan full of sanctuaries for multiple international terrorist organizations”, which posed a serious and direct threat to Afghanistan, its neighbours and the entire region.
“Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the collective failure in Afghanistan and blaming allies certainly does not serve the shared objective of achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region.”
US created Taliban and abandoned Pakistan: Hillary Clinton
In response to the US president’s statement, the country’s civil and military leadership showed an unprecedented restraint, while Pakistan’s media and opposition leaders were harsh in their reaction to Trump’s tweet.
The Daily Times commented: While apportioning blame for the situation in Afghanistan, the Trump administration should keep in mind that the US invaded Afghanistan after 9/11 without any exit strategy in mind. More importantly, the origins of the Taliban militias can be traced back to the Mujahideen that Pakistan and the US trained and funded together during the 1980s.
A Pakistani TV channel showed a clip of Hillary Clinton who appeared before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee in April 2009, when she explained how the militancy in Pakistan was linked to the US-backed proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
“The problems we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for, having contributed to it. We also have a history of kind of moving in and out of Pakistan,” she told the committee.
“Let’s remember here… the people we are fighting today we funded them twenty years ago… and we did it because we were locked in a struggle with the Soviet Union.
“They invaded Afghanistan… and we did not want to see them control Central Asia and we went to work… and it was President Reagan in partnership with Congress led by Democrats who said you know what it sounds like a pretty good idea… let’s deal with the ISI and the Pakistan military and let’s go recruit these mujahideen.
“And great, let them come from Saudi Arabia and other countries, importing their Wahabi brand of Islam so that we can go beat the Soviet Union.
“And guess what … they (Soviets) retreated … they lost billions of dollars and it led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“So there is a very strong argument which is… it wasn’t a bad investment in terms of Soviet Union but let’s be careful with what we sow… because we will harvest.
“So we then left Pakistan … We said okay fine you deal with the Stingers that we left all over your country… you deal with the mines that are along the border and… by the way we don’t want to have anything to do with you… in fact we’re sanctioning you… So we stopped dealing with the Pakistani military and with ISI and we now are making up for a lot of lost time.”
It was question from Congressman Adam Shciff, a California Democrat that spurred Secretary Clinton to delve into history and come out with an answer that other US politicians have avoided in the past.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net). He is the author of several books including Islam & Muslims in the 21st Century published in 2017.