Washington: The US wants a “great relationship” with Pakistan but cannot do so as the country “houses enemies,” President Donald Trump said on America’s strained ties with Islamabad, months after he stopped $1.3 billion in military aid to its former ally. Speaking to his Cabinet colleagues, President Trump, however, said a meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan under Prime Minister Imran Khan will take place “very soon.” He said his administration has initiated peace talks with the Taliban in war-torn Afghanistan.
Trump also told his colleagues that he has ended $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. 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 $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 US. 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. Earlier, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, who is considered close to President Trump, said in an interview that if Pakistan helped the US in bringing the Taliban to the table for negotiations, the US would focus on counter-terrorism and the IS.
Khan was sworn in as Pakistan’s PM in August last year. The cricketer-turned politician said in January last year that meeting President Trump would be a “bitter pill” to swallow. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo met Prime Minister Khan in Islamabad in September last year and pressed him to take “sustained and decisive measures” against terrorists threatening the regional peace and stability.