A day after the United States announced the suspension of all security aid to Pakistan, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said Islamabad’s alliance with Washington is over.
“We do not have any alliance” with the US, Khawaja Muhammad Asif said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday.
“This is not how allies behave,” he added.
On Thursday, the administration of President Donald Trump had said that security assistance was on hold “until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network”.
The bilateral ties between the two former allies in the ‘war on terror’ has witnessed a dramatic decline in the recent past, specially after President Trump targeted Pakistan in a tweet last week, saying the country had given the US nothing but ‘lies and deceit’.
However, even before the highly provocative tweet, the two nations had rocky relations to say the least, lacking trust ever since the 9/11 attack in 2001.
The US accuses Pakistan of harbouring militants, who it claims kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, while Islamabad says Washington doesn’t adequately acknowledge Pakistan’s role in decimating al Qaeda or its sacrifice of thousands of lives after joining America’s ‘war on terror’.
Islamabad also sees the US growing ever closer to its archenemy India, with the Trump administration even inviting New Delhi to take a bigger role in Afghanistan – a move, experts say all but guaranteed Pakistan’s pullback from cooperating with the US effort there, wrote the WSJ.
The recent spat between the two countries could push Pakistan further into the arms of China and complicate America’s effort to end the Afghanistan war, its longest-running conflict. BMI Research, an economic-analysis firm based in London, said in a report on Friday that the US suspension of aid “will likely accelerate Pakistan’s geopolitical drift towards China”.
In Friday’s interview, Asif also said during former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s tenure, Pakistan made a “huge mistake” in 2001 by joining America’s campaign in Afghanistan, which he said caused a terrorist backlash on Pakistan.
The foreign minister said the US had turned Pakistan into a “whipping boy” for its failures in Afghanistan.
“We have relative calm in Pakistan at the moment,” he said. “But if we go against these people [Afghan insurgents], then the war will again be fought on our soil, which will suit the Americans,” he added.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, on the other hand, has said that they were still working with Pakistan, and will restore the aid if any decisive movements against the terrorists were visible.
He went on to say that he is not worried about Pakistan cutting off US supply routes to Afghanistan.
Asif added that Pakistan is “not alone” and had options for other allies.
Last year, the foreign minister rallied China, Iran, Russia and Turkey behind Pakistan’s strategy for Afghanistan, which centers on peace talks with the Taliban instead of more fighting.
Following Trump’s anti-Pakistan tweet, China said it is “ready to promote and deepen our cooperation” with Pakistan.