'Peanuts, not billions of dollars': Nisar assails Trump's claims of aid for Pakistan

Updated August 30, 2017

Email

Chaudhry Nisar speaks in the National Assembly.— DawnNews
Chaudhry Nisar speaks in the National Assembly.— DawnNews

Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday lambasted the new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia announced by US President Donald Trump, saying Pakistan was not responsible for the failure of US and its allies in Afghanistan.

Nisar also ridiculed Trump's claim that the US has paid "billions and billions of dollars" to Pakistan and called on the government to issue the record of the past 20 years to "expose" American claims.

"It's not billions of dollars, it's peanuts," the former interior minister said while addressing the National Assembly.

Editorial: Pakistan and US must talk

Nisar said that Coalition Support Fund payments from the US were for services rendered by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

He also criticised the US for dragging its feet in making payments from the military fund, adding: "If our bill [for military services] is $500 million, they [US] sit on it for months [...] and end up giving us $200 million."

"They have ruined our roads, our airspace and our country, but are not ready to pay for the expenses."

"Put your money where your mouth is," Nisar railed, adding that the US has been able to point fingers because Pakistan did not keep a proper record of American assistance.

Nisar said that while he was the interior minister, he had called for an "international audit" of US claims that it had paid Pakistan $240 million over five years.

But that "very democratic country [US] did not respond to the audit proposal, and the matters are still the same," claimed Nisar.

Peace in Afghanistan is more in the interest of Pakistan than of the US, but "no one should expect one-sided cooperation from Pakistan", he added.

Agreeing with Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah, he said that a joint session of the parliament should have been called to discuss the response to the US policy instead of a National Assembly session.

A message conveyed from a united parliament would be positive, he added.

'We want to wipe the slate clean'

Nisar said that all the institutions should be united and speak the same language in responding to the new US policy, adding that a statement based on arguments should be prepared in which the allegations of terrorist networks and inordinate US aid are addressed.

He suggested that an international forum could be chosen where "we point out the terror networks existing there [Afghanistan] and you [point to the networks] here", following which a procedure could be chalked out to determine whether terrorist networks exist in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Additionally, he said, an audit of US aid received in the last 10 years should be conducted to determine how much money was spent in Pakistan, and "how much they gave with one hand and how much went back [with] the other".

The ex-minister said that it was a positive step that the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells was rescheduled. The diplomat should visit, he said, "but we should first say we want to wipe the slate clean regarding the allegations levelled against us".

He said that a way forward should be cleared by the Foreign Ministry: "You [US] give us the evidence, we will clear [the matter]", he said, adding that the biggest destabilising factor in Afghanistan is the US plan to impose a "totally irrelevant country", India, on Afghanistan.

'No nation has paid a higher price'

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi appreciated the unity displayed by the government and opposition lawmakers in responding to Trump's statement.

"These speeches go to show that Pakistan has rejected Trump's statement with unity."

"Trump said that Pakistan is not doing enough in the war against terrorism, but tell me one nation that has paid a higher price for this war," Qureshi said.

"Our army, our police, even our own people, have lost their lives in this war; no other country can say they have done as much."

Pakistan thanks the US for the assistance it has given to the former, but both sides should sit down and "tabulate the amount of money that has been given to us and of everything that has been taken from us," said Qureshi. "Let us calculate the amount and then see who has spent more."

He said that Pakistan has always stood for peace and stability in Afghanistan because it knows that "peace in Pakistan will not be possible without peace in Afghanistan".

Appreciating Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif's plan to visit China, Russia and Turkey for consultations on the new American policy, Qureshi said that the minister should also visit Iran, with whom both Pakistan and Afghanistan share borders.

'Sidelining of FO behind failures'

PPP leader Khursheed Shah in his speech also pointed out that it would have been better if the debate took place in a joint session of the parliament rather than in the NA.

He said that the NA should prepare a resolution regarding the Trump policy while keeping Pakistan's neighbours in mind. "There is nothing to be emotional about; we should keep our wits about us and create a resolution."

"The biggest reason for our [foreign policy] failure is the fact that we sidelined our Foreign Office for so long," he said.

Trump's diatribe

Trump had in his August 21 speech announced a new strategy for Afghanistan while denouncing Pakistan for allegedly allowing terrorists to maintain safe havens inside its territory.

He also seemed to want India to take on a bigger role in Afghanistan, stoking fears in Islamabad that India would use this opportunity for stirring trouble in the bordering areas of Pakistan.

Talking tough on Pakistan, Trump had said, "We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organisations," while warning that vital aid to Islamabad could be cut.

"We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting," Trump had said. "That will have to change and that will change immediately."