ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday lashed out at U.S. President Donald Trump following his remarks that Pakistan doesn’t “do a damn thing” for the United States despite billions of dollars in U.S. aid for the South Asian nation.
The friction threatens to further worsen already fragile relations between Islamabad and Washington, on-off allies who have repeatedly clashed about the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s alleged support for Islamist militants.
Khan, who assumed power in August and is known for his fiery anti-American rhetoric, said in a series of tweets that “record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump’s tirade against Pakistan” over the weekend.
Trump, during a Fox News TV interview aired on Sunday, defended cutting aid to Islamabad and also suggested Pakistani authorities knew Osama bin Laden’s location prior to his killing by U.S. troops in a raid inside Pakistan in 2011.
Pakistan denies supporting Afghan Taliban insurgents waging war against U.S.-backed troops in Afghanistan and Islamabad has also always rejected claims officials aided former al Qaeda leader bin Laden.
“Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before,” Khan tweeted.
Trump, in a pre-recorded interview, said bin Laden had been living in “a nice mansion” in Pakistan next to a military academy and “everybody in Pakistan knew he was there”.
“And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. ...(bin Laden) lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $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.”
Khan said Pakistan had borne the brunt of the United States’ war on terror, which focused on militants that straddle the Afghanistan-Pakistan tribal belt.
“No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror,” Khan said. “Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US “aid” was a minuscule $20 bn.”
Khan also pointed out that Pakistan continued to provide its roads and air space for the re-supply for more than 10,000 U.S. troops currently based in Afghanistan.
“Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?”
Editing by Nick Macfie