Pakistan says it’s being made a scapegoat for American failures in the war against terror after U.S. President Donald Trump accused the country of knowingly sheltering former Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Trump said that “everybody in Pakistan” knew that bin Laden was living in the garrison town of Abbottabad, where he was killed by American commandos in May 2011.
Trump said he decided to cut off aid to Pakistan because “they don’t do a damn thing for us.” He then took to Twitter to double down on his criticism.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan who, like Trump, has rarely been shy to take on critics on Twitter, fired back in a series of tweets on Monday.
The cricket-legend-turned-politician slammed Trump’s “false assertions” and challenged him to name a more steadfast ally to the U.S. in its war against terror.
“Record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump’s tirade against Pakistan: 1. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror. 2. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US ‘aid’ was a miniscule $20 bn,” Khan tweeted.
In a subsequent tweet, Khan said the U.S. should stop pointing fingers and instead look within itself to figure out why the Afghan Taliban continues to thrive.
He said Pakistan had suffered enough fighting for the U.S. and that, “Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests,” concluding the thread by accusing Trump of “sprinkling salt on the wounds” of Pakistan.
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had summoned the U.S. ambassador to “register a strong protest” about Trump’s comments.
It added that Pakistan deserved credit for helping in “decimating the core Al-Qaeda leadership and eradicating the threat of terrorism from the region.”
Pakistan has denied that it knew bin Laden’s whereabouts prior to the raid, which was carried out without its knowledge.
It later arrested a doctor, Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA confirm bin Laden’s whereabouts by running a bogus vaccination campaign in Abbottabad.
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Pakistan has long been accused by the U.S. — as well as its neighbours Afghanistan and India — of turning a blind eye to Islamist extremists, a charge that Pakistan denies.
The spat between Trump and Khan comes less than three moths after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad and said the two countries had agreed to “reset our relationship.”