Pak-US diplomatic row: Foreign Minister to brief parliamentary leaders

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif will shortly brief political leaders on the ongoing diplomatic friction between Pakistan and the US in a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.

The row stems from US President Donald Trump’s New Year Eve tweet in which he said the US had foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years. “They have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking our leaders as fools,” Trump had stated.

In today’s session, which is being presided over by Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the government aims to take the parliamentary leaders into confidence over Pakistan’s response to the crisis by taking notes of the recommendations of parliamentary leaders on the issue.
After a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) and the federal cabinet, today’s meeting of parliamentary leaders is the third high-level forum to discuss the issue.
Besides Asif, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and NSA Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua will brief participants on the latest situation.

Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir is also present at the meeting.

On Wednesday, Asif told a meeting of the federal cabinet that Pakistan has several options in response to withdrawal of aid by the United States, media report.
“The civil-military leadership is on the same page under present circumstances,” sources quoted the foreign minister telling the participants.

“The US withdrawal of aid to Pakistan will not make any difference; Pakistan too, has several options.”

Earlier, the NSC expressed its disappointment over Trump’s anti-Pakistan statement but decided not to take measures in haste in reply to US accusations.

The high-level huddle of the country’s civilian and military leadership, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, was held on Tuesday after Trump’s tweet and threat to cut Pakistan’s aid.

The committee stated that the country is undeterred in its resolve for establishing peace in Pakistan and has fought the war on terror with unflinching resolve.

The statement further added that during visits by US officials, it was decided to move forward with mutual trust and cooperation, which would also lead to stability in Afghanistan.
Trump’s comments “struck with great insensitivity” and “negated the decades of sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation”, further said the statement.
Elaborating further, the NSC stated that Pakistan cannot be blamed for failures in Afghanistan and accusing allies will not lead to the establishment of peace in the neighbouring country.
It added that large areas of Afghanistan are outside the government’s writ and have become safe havens for terrorists which endanger the region.
Pakistan also voiced its support for the Afghan government’s efforts for peace, with the NSC agreeing that peace in Afghanistan is not only linked to peace and stability in the region but also important for peace in the world.