What started with United States President Donald Trump’s tirade against Pakistan on Sunday night culminated into a heated exchange between him and Prime Minister Imran Khan on Twitter on Monday, with the latter making it clear that “Now, we [Pakistan] will do what is best for our people and our interests."
PM Khan’s latest rebuttal came after Trump tweeted about Pakistan’s alleged inaction against “Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan”. The US head of state was repeating his statements from his interview to Fox News on Sunday in which he attempted to justify his administration's decision to pull "military aid" to Pakistan.
The US president claimed he had pointed out Osama bin Laden in his book "just BEFORE" the 9/11 attacks and that his country "of course" should have captured the Al Qaeda leader "long before we did".
"President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!.." he wrote.
Reiterating his earlier comment, Trump said the US no longer pays billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan "because they would take our money and do nothing for us". He cited the capture of bin Laden in Abbottabad and the Afghanistan war as the two areas of alleged inaction by Pakistan.
"They [Pakistan] were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!" Trump said.
The US president's tweets were shortly followed by a Twitter post by Prime Minister Khan, who said Trump "needs to be informed abt historical facts".
"Trump’s false assertions add insult to the injury [that] Pak has suffered in US WoT in terms of lives lost & destabilised & economic costs," the premier wrote.
"Pak has suffered enough fighting US's war. Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests," he concluded.
PM Khan's response to Trump's tirade
PM Khan first hit back at Trump's remarks earlier today, suggesting that Washington assess its efficacy in the War on Terror in Afghanistan instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for its failures.
While speaking to Fox News, Trump had justified his administration's decision to cancel military aid for Pakistan by linking it to bin Laden being found in Pakistan in 2011. "They [Pakistan] don’t do a damn thing for us," the US president had said.
Speaking of the compound in Abbottabad where bin Laden was found in 2011, Trump said the bin Ladens had been "living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there."
However, contrary to Trump's insinuations, former US president Barack Obama, under whom the raid was carried out, had said last year: "We had no evidence that Pakistan was aware of his presence — that is something that we looked at."
Trump also added that the US used to give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year, but doesn't anymore. "I ended it because they don't do anything for us."
PM Khan responded to Trump's statements, saying that Islamabad had decided to "participate in the US War on Terror" although no Pakistani was involved in the 9/11 attacks.
"Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war and over $123 billion was lost," he added, of which "US 'aid' was a minuscule $20bn", the premier said.
In addition to economic losses, the PM highlighted the impact of the US war on Pakistan's tribal areas. "Our tribal areas were devastated and millions of people were uprooted from their homes. The war drastically impacted the lives of ordinary Pakistanis," he said.
"Pakistan continues to provide free lines of ground and air communications (GLOCs/ALOCs)," he added.
"Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?" he asked.
"Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140,000 Nato troops, plus 250,000 Afghan troops and reportedly $1 trillion spent on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before," he suggested.
Earlier today, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari also called Trump out over his remarks about Pakistan, saying: "@realDonaldTrump suffers conveniently from perpetual historic amnesia!"
Relations between the United States and Pakistan, which began to strain in 2011, reached a new low in January when Trump suspended US security assistance to Islamabad over the alleged presence of Afghan militant groups in Fata. The government as well as the military had rejected the charge as incorrect.
The Inter-Services Public Relations had clarified at the time that the Coalition Support Fund, received from the US, is reimbursement of money spent for operations in support of the coalition for regional peace.