US NSA McMaster said Trump has great sympathy for the Pakistani people and in particular, how much they have suffered at the hands of terrorists who have victimised so many Pakistanis with mass murders.
President Donald Trump is “frustrated” with Pakistan for supporting terror groups and using them as an arm of their foreign policy, US National Security Advisor (NSA) HR McMaster said, underlining that their relationship can no longer bear the weight of contradictions.
The US and others have long complained that Pakistan offered safe haven to the Afghan Taliban and their allies, the Haqqani Network, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.
Pakistan denies allegations but Trump has escalated the criticism against the country since he took office last January.
“The president is frustrated, and he values what we hope would be a partnership with Pakistan. But he is frustrated at Pakistan’s behaviour in that it continues to provide support for these groups, it goes after terrorist groups, really, very selectively, and uses others as an arm of their foreign policy,” McMaster was quoted as saying by Voice of America, a Congress-funded US media-outlet.
McMaster was responding to a question on the New Year tweet by Trump in which he said that the “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than USD 33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools”.
The US today suspended over USD 1.15 billion in security aid and the delivery of military equipment to it for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups and dismantle their safe havens.
The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes after President Donald Trump in a New Year’s Day tweet.
The suspended amount also include USD 255 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress.
The top national security advisor was interviewed after the tweet, but before the US announcement of suspension of security assistance to Pakistan.
McMaster said Trump has great sympathy for the Pakistani people and in particular, how much they have suffered at the hands of terrorists who have victimised so many Pakistanis with mass murders.
“I mean, so, he empathises with the Pakistani people, and he wants to see the Pakistani government go after these groups less selectively. This is not a blame game, as some would say,” he said.
“This is really our effort to communicate clearly to Pakistan that our relationship can no longer bear the weight of contradictions, and that we have to really begin now to work together to stabilise Afghanistan,” McMaster said.
“What is frustrating at times is we see Pakistan operating against the interests of its own people by going after these groups only selectively, by providing safe havens and support bases for Taliban and Haqqani network leadership that operate out of Pakistan as they perpetuate hell in portions of Pakistan and in Afghanistan,” said the top White House official.
Responding to a question, McMaster appeared to be unworried about China stepping in amidst its deteriorating relationship with the US.
“Well, I don’t think…who’s going to step in now, I think, and want Pakistan to continue its support for terrorist groups like the Haqqani network, for groups like the Taliban? I mean, certainly it’s not in China’s interest,” he said.
McMaster said China has a terrorist problem on its southern border, a terrorist problem that does have connections back into Pakistan.
“It is not going to be any other country in the region, certainly, who will want Pakistan to continue this, really, pattern of behaviour that we have seen, where it goes after these groups only selectively, while it sustains and supports others who act as an arm of its foreign policy,” he said.
Responding to another question, McMaster said that it would “just be unwise” for any Pakistani leader using nuclear weapons “to extort or for blackmail”.
Pakistan, he noted, does not want to become North Korea.
“I mean, does Pakistan want to become North Korea? Doesn’t look too appealing a model to me. So, I think Pakistan could be on a path to increase security and prosperity, or it could be on a path to replicating North Korea. I think that’s an easy choice for Pakistani leaders,” McMaster said.