Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa told a top American general that the nation “felt betrayed” by criticism that it isn’t doing enough to fight terrorism, against the backdrop of the suspension of security-related aid worth about $2 billion by the US.
Bajwa further said Pakistan wouldn’t ask for restoration of the financial assistance but it expects “honourable recognition” of its contributions to the war on terror.
Over the week, Gen Joseph L Votel, head of the US Central Command, telephoned Bajwa twice to discuss bilateral security cooperation following President Donald Trump’s tweet accusing Islamabad of “lies and deceit” in the war on terror. Bajwa also received a call from an unnamed US senator.
The Pakistani military’s media arm said in a statement that Votel had apprised Bajwa about the US decision regarding suspension of security assistance and reimbursements from the Coalition Support Fund.
The statement quoted Bajwa as saying that the “entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed over US recent statements despite decades of cooperation”. He added, “Accordingly, (the) unanimous national response reflected the same sentiments.”
The army chief “reiterated that Pakistan will not seek resumption of aid but expect honourable recognition of our contributions, sacrifices and unwavering resolve in (the) fight against terrorism for peace and stability in the region”.
Ties between Pakistan and the US worsened after Trump, in his first tweet of the year on January 1, said Washington has got nothing but “lies and deceit” from Pakistan despite providing it more than $33 billion in aid since 2002. Soon after, US officials announced that security-related aid for Pakistan worth about $2 billion would be suspended.
Votel was quoted as saying that the US values Pakistan’s role in the “war on terror and expected that ongoing turbulence (would be a) temporary phase”.
He further told Bajwa that the US is “not contemplating any unilateral action inside Pakistan but is seeking cooperation to tackle Afghan nationals who, in the US view, use Pakistan’s soil against Afghanistan”.
Votel said this issue was undermining Pakistan’s contributions to the war on terror in Washington.
Bajwa said Pakistan would continue its counter-terrorism efforts “even without US financial support in accordance with our national interest and shall remain committed to bring it to its logical conclusion along with other stakeholders”.
He also said “Pakistan has suffered hugely due to great power (competition) in the region” and that Islamabad is “fully aware of US concerns on activities of Afghan nationals in Pakistan”.
Pakistan has already undertaken multiple actions through military operations to “deny any residual capacity to terrorists of all hue and colour for which return of Afghan refugees is an essential prerequisite”, Bajwa said.
The statement said Pakistan is unilaterally strengthening border controls but bilateral border management must also be Kabul’s top priority. Bajwa further said Pakistan will keep supporting all peace initiatives in Afghanistan despite the “tendency to scapegoat Pakistan”. Peace in Afghanistan is “the only way to move towards enduring peace and stability in the region”, he added.
Votel acknowledged the effectiveness of some actions by Pakistan to ensure that its hospitality to Afghan refugees is “not misused in anyway”.