Trump looks forward to meeting 'new leadership of Pakistan'

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said he looked forward to meeting “the new leadership of Pakistan” and wished for a “great relationship” with Pakistan, something that comes as quite a contrast as compared to his stance exactly a year ago.

Trump, who was speaking to reporters following a Cabinet meeting here, noted that he would “be doing that in the not-too-distant future”.

Trump’s statement comes about as the world has entered the new year, 2019, making it a positive message from the US to Pakistan and indicating a possible change in Washington’s policy towards Islamabad.

The American head-of-state did not, however, refrain from making a comment about the US’ move to slash aid to Pakistan. “I ended the $1.3 billion that was paid … like it was water. We’re just paying to Pakistan … so I ended that,” he claimed.

‘Lies & deceit’

Last year, on New Year, Trump had stressed that “the United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years” and complained that Islamabad had “given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools”.

He had also alleged that Pakistan was providing “safe haven to the terrorists”, something that Islamabad responded to strongly, denying that that was the case and that Pakistan itself had made numerous sacrifices in the war of terror.

The spokesperson for the Pakistan Army had subsequently responded to Trump’s tweet at the time and underscored that no amount of compulsion could pressurise Pakistan on how to continue with its state-of-affairs.

“No amount of coercion can dictate us how to continue,” the director-general (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor, had said while speaking on media.

“We wish to move forward through cooperative engagement but will not compromise on self-respect and dignity. Pakistan had made alternate arrangements in advance,” he had added.

Maj Gen Ghafoor had also noted that the US’ decision to stop aid would not affect the nation’s financial requirements.