PAKISTAN’S Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday it has suspended talks and bilateral visits with the United States, over President Donald Trump’s claims the country provides “safe haven” to terrorists.
Protests also broke out in a number of cities against Trump’s comments, which were sure to incense the government of this important US ally. After 9/11, the US declared Pakistan a major non-Nato ally in 2002 as part of its “War on Terror”.
While outlining his administration’s Afghan strategy last week, Trump said “for its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror.”
Pakistan’s National Security Council responded in a statement last week, stating it “outrightly rejected the specific allegations and insinuations made against Pakistan.”
“To scapegoat Pakistan will not help in stabilising Afghanistan. In fact, being its immediate neighbour, Pakistan has an abiding interest in peace and stability in Afghanistan,” it said.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif cancelled a trip to the US last week, reported Dawn.
The US Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells was also supposed to arrive in Islamabad on Tuesday, a meeting which had been suspended by Pakistan’s government.
“The security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense,” said Trump in his speech last week.
“Today, 20 US-designated foreign terrorist organisations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the highest concentration in any region, anywhere in the world.”
“The threat is worse is because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict, and that could happen,” he said.
Opposition leader Imran Khan told CNN “every Pakistani feels hurt and humiliated.”
Local media outlet Ary News reported representatives of various religious and tribal groups as well as political parties had demonstrated against Trump’s comments in cities across Pakistan on Monday.
Anti-US protests in Pakistan flared up after Donald Trump accuses country of harbouring "terrorists" pic.twitter.com/5kCBI35Cul
— TRT World (@trtworld) August 29, 2017
Speakers at rallies reportedly lauded the sacrifices of Pakistan’s security forces in eliminating terrorists from the Muslim-majority country.