On New Year’s Day, President Trump published a tweet in which he accused Pakistan of trickery for taking $33 billion from the US in the name of aid while providing shelter to Taliban terrorists that the United States is fighting against in Afghanistan. The White House declared that most security assistance that was given to Pakistan would be suspended. This suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars of aid is basically meant to pressure Pakistan into taking action against these Taliban and militant groups. As with previous statements, Pakistan is accused of harbouring terrorists from the Haqqani Network and of upholding relationships with the Afghani Taliban.
Pakistan’s Reaction to Donald Trump
The initial reaction was toned down. Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman said that Pakistan is experiencing challenging times and efforts are still underway to find common ground and determine the steps that should be taken jointly to combat the situation. The statement issued by him also included that Pakistan helped in the annihilation of Al-Qaeda and fought against other groups that misused and exploited the lawless border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The statement promoted respect and trust along with patience. Out of all the previous statements given by the Pakistani officials, this one was considered to be the strongest and one to hold ground.
American Cuts to Pakistan Government
Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif tweeted in Urdu, saying that the past teaches Pakistan to be careful in trusting the United States. He further said that thousands of civilians, young lieutenants, brigadiers, generals, and soldiers were victimized for a war that was not even theirs to start with, it was initiated by the United States. Pakistani Ambassador to the United States, Aizaz Chaudhry expressed that they are engaged with the U.S. Administration and await further details. He also added that Pakistan has fought wars against terrorism on their own which had cost them over $120 billion in 15 years, which should be acknowledged.
Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson said that the aid that is being cut off also includes the equipment and funds that were given to Pakistan’s military and a reimbursement for expenses that were collected by Pakistan. After these allegations and the request for reimbursement, Pakistan denied all the accusations and not only that but China seconded Pakistan saying that the world should appreciate and acknowledge Islamabad’s contribution to counter-terrorism.
The Haqqani Network in Pakistan
Afghan and American officials have been accusing Pakistan of harbouring the Haqqani Network for a long time. The connection between Pakistan and the Haqqani Network can be traced back to the 1970s. Jalaluddin Haqqani was exiled during the rule of President Daoud Khan in Afghanistan. Jalaluddin Haqqani based himself in and around Miramshah, which is a small town located in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. From there a rebellion against the government of Daoud Khan began in 1975. The Haqqani Network is known to maintain ties with ISI, Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence.
Pakistan’s army had been reportedly reluctant to take action against the Haqqani Network in the past. In 2014, there was a shift in the typical behaviour of Pakistan’s army towards the Taliban in Pakistan and a massive military offense was launched in North Waziristan, the operation was called “Operation Zarb-e-Azb”. So far it has targeted all the militants including the Haqqani Network. The operation is still ongoing and is currently commanded by General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Record
In September 2008, The New York Times reported that Pakistan refused to take action against the Haqqani Network mainly because it acts as an important force for protecting Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan in the event of American withdrawal. Pakistan hoped that by being a sanctuary for the Haqqani Network, they could have some sort of influence on their neighbours that they are in conflict with. According to a retired Pakistani official, Pakistan does not have the means to influence their neighbours. Interior Minister Rehman Malik, in response to the previous allegations, said that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has trained and created the Haqqani Network and other Taliban during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
The fact that Pakistan completely denied the allegations of harbouring terrorists in their country is, of course, false considering their past with the Haqqani Network that dates back to the 70s. Although that is not the truth anymore since so many actions in the past few years have been taken to eliminate these terrorists.
The Haqqani Network has not been completely eliminated, as shown by an attack in Kabul back in 2016, that took the lives of 67 people. Pakistan claimed to have a significant influence over the terror group, but that is nowhere to be seen in forcing the group into peace talks. So far, the operations have proved to be quite effective and a noticeable decrease in the attacks can be observed.
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