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LAHORE: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has called for waving goodbye to the US aid in the wake of “exaggerated statements being made about the so-called financial help both at local and international levels.”

“The exaggerated comments being made in the national and international discourse regarding the US aid to Pakistan are tantamount to rubbing salt into the wounds of Pakistanis suffering terrorism, poverty and backwardness,” the chief minister said in a statement issued here on Friday.

He said it’s time Islamabad closed the chapter of the US aid by politely saying “thank you” [for the help]. “That’s the only way the nation can avert such jibes,” he said.

His statement comes in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s allegation that Pakistan received billions of dollars in aid but did not act against “terrorist havens” in the country.

“It is time for Pakistan to politely and gratefully close the chapter on the US assistance so that the bilateral relationship can be freed from the shadow of repeated contemptuous taunts,” said the chief minister who claimed that Pakistanis had rendered enough sacrifices for achieving the shared objectives of terror-free and peaceful world.

“Pakistani people craved the opportunity to be treated fairly and honorably and remain committed to contributing to the world peace and prosperity,” he said.

“Pakistan has never shied away from advancing our shared objectives as a member of international comity. However, the job of providing for and leading the people of Pakistan out of different challenges falls on Pakistani leaders. Other countries can help Pakistan by having a fair appraisal of regional and global affairs and trying to understand Pakistan’s legitimate concerns.”

Over the years many countries including the United States had helped the country improve health, education and other service delivery areas for Pakistanis and this vital support continued to be welcomed, he acknowledged. But, he said in the same breath, that no country should see its generosity as a justification to make unfair accusations and demands of the Pakistani people.

Meanwhile, Difa-i-Pakistan Council, Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen and Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat Pakistan took out protest rallies and held demonstrations against Trump’s threatening statement across the country. In Lahore, they held protest demonstrations outside the US consulate, staged a sit-in and demanded that Islamabad sever diplomatic ties with Washington and suspend Nato supplies.

They also demanded that the foreign minister cancel his proposed US visit, and that India-Afghan transit trade must be closed.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2017