Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Islamabad felt 'betrayed' at US criticism, army chief says

Islamabad felt 'betrayed' at US criticism, army chief says

He insisted Pakistan should have supported the USA campaign against terrorism but it should not have deployed tens of thousands of troops to the country's tribal regions on the Afghan border to fight its own people.

In the weeks since the Trump administration withheld almost $1 billion in security aid for Pakistan, Washington and Islamabad officials have been working to patch things up and avert a risky deterioration in their often troubled relations.

Islamabad denied Trump's assertions as "completely incomprehensible", saying it was fighting an anti-terrorism war largely with its own resources and was not in need of US aid.

The US aid suspension was announced days after Trump tweeted on January 1 that the United States had foolishly given Pakistan $33 billion in aid over 15 years and was rewarded with "nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools".

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The move, first announced by Trump in a New Year's Day tweet, sparked indignation in Pakistan, which has long denied the USA accusations of militant support, and accused Washington of dismissing the sacrifices it has made in the war on extremism.

See: Is Imran Khan really Pakistan's Donald Trump? The army chief, it is said, was contacted by Gen Votel and an unnamed senator to defuse tensions after President Donald Trump's New Year Day tweet accusing Pakistan of lying and being deceitful towards the U.S., reported the Dawn.

The US military's Central Command did not comment on the content of their conversation.

USA and Pakistani officials say neither has happened, and in conversations over the past week the two sides have tried to move past Trump's incendiary rhetoric.

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Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said the return of the refugees is prerequisite in a bid to help the Pakistani forces deny safe havens to the Afghan militants.

Votel also told Bajwa the "US is not contemplating any unilateral action inside Pakistan", it continued.

"Pakistan had nothing to do with it", he said, adding that he supported co-operation with the United States but not co-opting Pakistan's military into a ground battle with its own people in the tribal regions that border Afghanistan.

In 2016, a U.S. drone killed the then-leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, prompting protests from Islamabad of a violation of sovereignty.

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Military's public affairs division of Pakistan Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Friday released the details of Gen Bajwa's recent contacts with the United States leaders. So far, Pakistan has not done so.

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