WASHINGTON: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari criticised US President Donald Trump’s New Year’s tweet and termed it as “deeply hurtful” to the people of Pakistan, particularly to those people like himself “who have lost loved ones in the fight against extremism.”
He was talking to the American news outlet Fox Business in the show ‘After the Bell’, in connection with the American president’s accusation at the start of the year that Washington had “foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years”, but Pakistan had in return given “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan”.
Bilawal said that while he doesn’t think President Trump intended so, “this tweet sent a wrong message”.
He recalled that President Trump had talked about ‘aid’ in the tweet when referring to a sum of $33 billion transferred to Pakistan. Conceding that the concern over aid is “America’s right, America’s taxpayer money and absolutely your [the US government]’s right to [decide] how you want to spend it”, he made clear that the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) — under which a large chunk of the $33bn were transferred — “is actually reimbursement in exchange for services rendered by Pakistan in the fight against extremism.”
His response to allegations that Pakistan supports the Taliban was similarly calculated.
“The country [Pakistan] has seen a 75 per cent drop in terrorist activity, while in Afghanistan, terrorists are [still] active in 75pc of the country and 45pc of Afghanistan is not in the control of the government. If all the Nato forces — if all of America’s might and the Afghan government put together — can’t defeat terrorists in Afghanistan, how do we expect Pakistan to do it alone?” he asked.
“Afghanistan’s war can’t be won on Pakistan’s soil,” he added.
“Terrorists have killed Pakistanis; terrorists have killed more Pakistanis than Americans, and we want to end terrorism in Pakistan and in Afghanistan,” he reiterated.