Trump-Khan twitter spat rattles US and Pakistan’s relations

In a televised interview on Monday, President Trump alleged that Pakistan had “never told us (America) that he was living there”, accusing Islamabad of deliberately hiding Bin Laden while taking billions of dollars of US taxpayers’ money as aid. (AFP/File)
Updated 20 November 2018
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Trump-Khan twitter spat rattles US and Pakistan’s relations

  • Islamabad summons envoy to lodge a protest
  • Washington expected to issue a statement to address the diplomatic row

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has summoned the US Chargé d’Affaires (CdA) in Islamabad, Ambassador Paul Jones, “to register a strong protest” against the unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations leveled by President Donald Trump on Islamabad’s role in fighting terrorism and in the arrest of Osama bin Laden.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua told Jones on Tuesday that “such baseless rhetoric about Pakistan was totally unacceptable”.
US Embassy’s spokesperson in Islamabad confirmed to Arab News “that Ambassador Jones did meet with the Foreign Secretary at her request”, without sharing Jones’ response to the statement. The matter is most likely to be addressed at the state briefing in Washington and possibly at the White House on Tuesday, the spokesperson added.
In a televised interview on Monday, President Trump alleged that Pakistan had “never told us (America) that he was living there”, accusing Islamabad of deliberately hiding Bin Laden while taking billions of dollars of US taxpayers’ money as aid.
“Rejecting the insinuations about OBL (Osama Bin Laden), the Foreign Secretary reminded the US CdA that it was Pakistan’s intelligence cooperation that had provided the initial evidence to trace the whereabouts of OBL,” a senior ministry official said.
Following several comments posted by Trump on Twitter, Prime Minister Imran Khan hit back and reminded the US president of Pakistan’s sacrifices in supporting the “war against terror” and in the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
“The record needs to be put straight on Mr. Trump’s tirade against Pakistan: 1. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror. 2. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123bn was lost to economy. US “aid” was a minuscule $20 bn,” he tweeted.
In May this year, the US Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives — citing serious concerns on Pakistan’s commitment in tackling the insurgency ostensibly thriving in its porous border with Afghanistan — called for drastic cuts to the monetary assistance provided to Islamabad.
From roughly $2 billion, the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) — which is paid to Pakistan annually — was reduced to hundreds of millions, but with strings attached. Later in September, days ahead of US Secretary Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pakistan, the US canceled $300 million in its CSF to Islamabad, asserting the lack of “decisive actions” on part of Pakistan to support Trump’s South Asia strategy, which it claimed was vital for its success in ending the Afghan war.
The dramatic drop in funds is part of punitive measures in Washington’s South Asia and Afghan policy unveiled last year – a counter to Pakistan’s failure to comply with US demands. 
Furthermore, Trump in one of his several tweets said: “We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!”
Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Dr. Muhammad Faisal, told Arab News that the funds should not be viewed as aid but “reimbursements to be made to Pakistan under the CSF” for the logistical and operational support extended to the US which is “discontinued”. 
Trump’s accusations against Pakistan have driven a nail into the very issues between Islamabad and Washington which both sides have been trying to mend, even as they look to “reset an environment” of frosty relations. However, they have failed to meet eye to eye on certain matters as it conflicts with national interests.
Following Trump’s accusations, the Pentagon, however, said on Tuesday that its relations with Pakistan’s military remain unchanged.
“The US and Pakistan have a strong mutual interest in the region. As you know, they are critical (and) vital to the South Asia strategy and including the facilitation of a peace process that would lead to a stable and peaceful Afghanistan,” Col Rob Manning, director of defense press operations told journalists at a news conference.
“Trump-Khan twitter brawl is not policy level (dispute),” Qamar Cheema, a foreign relations expert, told Arab News, playing down the impact of the social media exchange.
He added that tweets between Trump and retired Navy Admiral William McRaven were “a domestic political fight” which eventually led to the “US-Pak diplomatic commotion”. 

TRUMP'S TWEETS

KHAN'S REACTION


US military declares five missing Marines dead after Japan crash

Updated 15 min 39 sec ago
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US military declares five missing Marines dead after Japan crash

  • The accident was initially reported to have happened during a refueling operation, but the military then said this had not been confirmed and that the circumstances were still under investigation
  • There are around 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan and accidents are not uncommon

TOKYO: The US military said Tuesday it had pronounced five missing Marines dead and was ending search operations nearly a week after two US military aircraft crashed off Japan.
The announcement brings the final toll in the December 6 crash to six, with a seventh crew member rescued after the deadly incident.
The crash involving an F/A-18 fighter jet with two crew onboard and a KC-130 refueling tanker with five crew occurred in the early morning around 100 kilometers (55 nautical miles) off the cape of Muroto in southwestern Japan.
It prompted a massive search and rescue operation, which the US military said had now been called off.
“Every possible effort was made to recover our crew and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by US, Japanese, and Australian forces during the search,” said US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, commanding general of the III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The accident was initially reported to have happened during a refueling operation, but the military said Tuesday this had not been confirmed and that the circumstances were still under investigation.
There are around 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan and accidents are not uncommon.
In November, a US navy fighter jet crashed into the sea off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa and its two crew members were rescued alive.
And in November 2017, a C-2A “Greyhound” aircraft with 11 people on board went down in the Philippine Sea — eight were rescued and the search was called off for the remaining three after a two-day search.
The US military has also experienced difficulties with its Osprey helicopters, with several emergency landings, a deadly crash and a piece of a chopper falling on the grounds of a Japanese school.
Those incidents have stoked tensions between close military allies Washington and Tokyo and led to protests against the deployment of Ospreys by residents living near US bases.

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