After the Trump administration announced cuts of about $2 billion in security aid last week, Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said the nuclear-armed nation felt “betrayed” by the U.S. and won’t seek a restoration of military funding.
According to a statement issued on Friday from Pakistan’s military media wing, Bajwa told the head of U.S. Central Command General Joseph Votel during phone calls that “Pakistan has suffered hugely due to great power contestation in the region,” and that it “is fully aware of U.S. concerns on activities of Afghan nationals in Pakistan and is already taking multiple actions,” but said that it will not seek “resumption of aid.”
The statement from Pakistan’s powerful military is the latest rift between U.S.-Pakistan relationship after Trump’s New Year Day tweet accusing Pakistan of continuing to harbor terrorists, saying that Pakistan had only given “lies and deceit” in return for billions of dollars of U.S. funding. Pakistan’s armed forces have long denied supporting insurgent groups, repeatedly mentioning the thousands of servicemen who have died fighting terrorism within its borders.
“Pakistan shall continue its sincere counter-terrorism efforts even without U.S. financial support. Pakistan will keep supporting all initiatives for peace in Afghanistan despite the tendency to scapegoat Pakistan.”
Since the September 11 attacks, Pakistan has provided NATO supply routes into landlocked Afghanistan following the invasion that toppled the Afghan Taliban and helped capture and kill senior al-Qaeda leaders. But it is also the place where Osama bin Laden hid for years before being killed in a 2011 raid by U.S. Navy Seals and has been repeatedly accused of giving sanctuary and support to proxy groups that target its neighbors, including the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network and anti-India insurgents. Analysts doubt that Trump’s move will alter Islamabad’s core strategic interests in the region, which includes maintaining Indian influence.
On Thursday, Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir said that military and intelligence assistance with the U.S. had been frozen, though later that day, Muhammad Faisal, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, rowed back those comments, saying “the two sides continue to communicate with each other on various issues of mutual interest.”