Pakistan Foreign Minister Bluntly Criticizes U.S.
In announcing a new plan for America's 16-year-old war in Afghanistan last month, President Trump accused Pakistan of not doing enough to help its troubled neighbor.
"We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” he said.
On Wednesday, Pakistan's foreign minister made it clear that he didn't agree.
"No billions of dollars were dished out to us," Khawaja Muhammed Asif said in an appearance at Asia Society. "It was money that was reimbursed for services we rendered to the United States of America and its allies."
The disagreement is characteristic of the turbulent, complex relationship between the two countries. Aligned during the Cold War (which Asif said Wednesday had been a mistake), the U.S. has since relied on Pakistan's cooperation during the decade-and-a-half military campaign in Afghanistan. But Washington has also accused Islamabad over the last two decades of providing a safe haven for Islamic terrorists who have planned and carried out attacks throughout the region. Asif strongly denies that Pakistan is responsible for Afghanistan's problems.
Drug production has gone up in Afghanistan by 3700 percent. Are we responsible for that?
Daesh [the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State] is active in three provinces. A proven presence. Are we responsible for that?
Forty percent of Afghanistan's territory has been lost to the Taliban in the last 15 years. Are we responsible for that?
[Afghanistan Chief Executive] Abdullah Abdullah and [Afghanistan President] Ashraf Ghani are fighting [with each other]. I don’t want to narrate the extent of their fight because that would be undiplomatic. Are we responsible for that?
More than 100,000 American soldiers are there. More than $1 trillion has been pumped into its economy. [There's] corruption. Afghan soldiers are selling their weapons in open markets to the Taliban. Are we responsible for that?
These things are never spoken of in the media over here. But these things are happening every day in Afghanistan.
Asif described the 1960s, '70s, and '80s as a golden era for Pakistan in which liberal values thrived. Since then, he said, sectarian division has roiled the country.
"A whole generation in my country doesn’t remember what Pakistan was like 40 years ago. It was a liberal country in which people could read. Different sects could live together. Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Shias, Sunnis, etc. They were all Pakistanis. Now it’s a tragedy. A tragedy on a national level.
For God’s sake, share this agony with us. Don’t blame us for the Afghans."
Asif also accused the U.S. of neglecting Pakistan as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed.
“[America] thought [it] was the sole superpower, the Cold War is over, so [it] didn’t have to bother with Pakistan. They could go straight to hell. And that’s what happened. We went to hell. We went to hell, and we’re still burning in hell.”
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