United States President Donald Trump has again criticised Pakistan’s efforts to fight extremism while singling out India for not doing anything in the war on terror.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Trump urged other countries to assume the battle against extremists as the US negotiates a withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Look, India’s right there, they are not fighting it, we’re fighting it,” he said. “Pakistan is next door. They’re fighting it, very little… it’s not fair. The United States is seven thousand miles away.”
The US president made the statement when asked about the reemergence of the Islamic State group in Iraq. The Trump administration has reduced the US military presence in Syria and Iraq and is negotiating a US withdrawal from Afghanistan with the Taliban insurgents.
But defence experts warn that a vacuum left by the United States could allow an extremist resurgence.
“At a certain point Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, they are going to have to fight their battles too,” he continued. “We wiped out the caliphate 100 per cent. I did it in record time. But at a certain point, all of these other countries, where ISIS is around … are going to have to fight them. Because do we want to stay there another 19 years? I don’t think so.”
He also warned Europeans to take back nationals captured fighting for the Islamic State, or he will release them back to their countries. Trump assailed France and Germany for not repatriating citizens who had fought with Islamic state and are now being held in camps in Syria.
“We’re holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now. And Europe has to take them,” he said. “If Europe doesn’t take them, I’ll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came. Which is Germany and France and other places.”
“We captured them, we’ve got thousands of them, and now as usual our allies don’t want ’em,” he said. “The United States is not going to put them in Guantanamo for the next 50 years and pay for it.”
Trump’s criticism of Islamabad comes barely a month after he hailed Pakistan’s help in advancing peace talks in Afghanistan as US seeks an accord with the Afghan Taliban to end almost 18 years of war.
Speaking from the Oval Office alongside Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in July last month, Trump also warned he could end the conflict in a matter of days through force and “Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth,” but preferred dialogue.
“We’ve made a lot of progress over the last couple of weeks, and Pakistan has helped us with that progress,” said Trump. “A lot of things are happening for the United States, and I think a lot of great things are going to be happening for Pakistan under your [Imran] leadership.”
The warm words and smiles signaled a clear reversal for the Republican president, who has in the past accused Pakistan of being duplicitous and last year cut $300 million in security aid.
US President Donald Trump’s warm reception of Imran and a delegation including the army chief and the head of the powerful ISI intelligence service was a welcome relief to a government under increasing economic pressure at home.
The United States has for years been doubtful about Pakistan’s wholehearted commitment to the US-led war on terrorism. Trump has also been suspicious of Pakistan, saying last year that “they don’t do a damn thing for us” despite receiving more than a billion dollars in aid a year.
However, the need to reach a settlement with the Taliban to end more than 18 years of US military involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s assurances that it would use its influence with the militant group helped change the mood.
Pakistani officials had laid the groundwork for the visit months earlier, with a visit to Islamabad in January by Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump ally who has argued strongly against any precipitous US pullout from Afghanistan. He gave enthusiastic backing to Imran’s government and publicly urged Trump to meet Imran.
With additional input from AFP.