The US wants a “great relationship” with Pakistan but cannot do so as the country “houses enemies”, President Donald Trump has said in his first comments in 2019 on America’s strained ties with Islamabad, months after he stopped USD 1.3 billion in military aid to its former ally.
Speaking to his Cabinet colleagues on Wednesday, President Trump, however, said a meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan under Prime Minister Imran Khan will take place “very soon”.
Trump also told his Cabinet colleagues that he has ended USD 1.3 billion in aid to Pakistan because “this South Asian country houses enemies“.
“We want to have a great relationship with Pakistan, but they house the enemy. They take care of the enemy. We just can’t do that,” Trump said.
“So, I look forward to meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future. But I ended USD 1.3 billion that we paid. I think it was water, we were just paying to Pakistan. So, I ended that,” he said.
Trump also alleged that Pakistan had not been fair to the United States.
Prime Minister Khan was sworn in as Pakistan’s Prime Minister in August last year. The cricketer-turned politician said in January last year that meeting President Trump would be a “bitter pill” to swallow.
Just a month ago, Trump wrote a letter to Khan, seeking Pakistan’s help with stuttering Afghan peace talks and support in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table to end the 17-year brutal war in the neighbouring country.
In November last year,Trump defended his administration’s decision to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, saying Islamabad does not do “a damn thing” for the US and its government helped late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden hide near its garrison city of Rawalpindi.
“We give Pakistan USD 1.3 billion a year… (Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them USD 1.3 billion a year – which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” he had said.
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump added.