Pakistani officials denounced the Trump administration’s decision to suspend military aid Friday, decrying what they called “arbitrary deadlines” and “unilateral pronouncements,” while members of the opposition called for retaliation.
In one of the harshest actions in years between the troubled allies, the Trump administration moved Thursday to block an estimated $1 billion in military assistance at the end of a week that began with the president accusing the Pakistanis of years of “lies & deceit.”
State Department officials said they are holding back the aid as an incentive for Pakistan to take “decisive action” to rid its lands of terrorist safe havens. It also placed the country on a watch list of nations failing to protect religious freedom.
“Working toward enduring peace requires mutual respect and trust along with patience and persistence,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goal posts are counterproductive in addressing common threats.”
Analysts fear the escalating tension could have a long-standing impact on regional security and the United States’ ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, where troop levels now stand at 14,000.
“There is little doubt that both are on a collision course and their bilateral relationship is set for a very rough ride, if back channel efforts are not made to address the U.S. concerns,” said Vinay Kaura, an Indian security analyst.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Shaiq Hussain, Annie Gowen