Amid reports that the Trump administration may approve more drastic measures to punish Islamabad for its alleged support to certain militant groups, the army on Wednesday said Pakistan would respond to any US action in line with the aspirations of the people.
“In case of [a] US action against Pakistan, it will be responded to [in line with] the aspirations of the people of Pakistan,” said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor in a short but telling statement.
The statement came in the backdrop of the White House’s announcement that the US would announce specific measures against Pakistan in the next 24 to 48 hours after Trump’s stinging New Year tweet.
In a Twitter post on the first day of 2018, US President Donald Trump had accused Pakistan of ‘lying and deceit’ and providing safe havens to terrorists despite taking over $33 billion in aid.
After the statement, Pakistan had called a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on Tuesday which expressed ‘disappointment’ over the statement, but said the country would not act in haste.
It is not clear whether the army issued the statement in anticipation of some possible unilateral action against Pakistan. The situation, nevertheless, seems fluid and officials say Pakistan is ready for any misadventure.
Responding to the oft-repeated allegations, Maj Gen Ghafoor, the military’s media wing chief, said Pakistan had taken action against the Haqqani network. “Effects of action against the Haqqani network will be visible in due time,” he added.
Speaking to a private news channel, he said Pakistani nation’s collective response to the Trump’s tweet was a positive sign. He noted that Pakistan and the US were still allies, and the relationship between the two countries had gone through ups and downs.
“We are allies and a war cannot be fought with allies,” he said. “There are several occasions where Pakistan has sided with the US. At one time Pakistan had the option to become the ally of Russia but it opted to join hands with the US instead.”
However, he said, in case the US took action against Pakistan, it would be responded to in accordance with the aspirations of the Pakistani people. He said India’s destabilising role was the biggest obstacle in regional peace, and it did not want Pakistan to succeed in its war against terrorism.
“The Coalition Support Fund (CSF) was meant for the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan and the United States are allies and they need to work together,” he added.
At the heart of the recent controversy is years of mistrust between the two countries, with the US accusing Pakistan of supporting the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, who are active against the US-backed administration in Kabul. Pakistan has always dismissed the allegations and insisted that its fight against terrorism is without any pick and choose.
“We are allies and war cannot be fought amongst allies”, DG ISPR said. “There are several occasions where Pakistan has sided with the United States… at one time Pakistan had the option to become the ally of Russia but it opte to join hands with the US instead.”
However, he said that in case the US took action against Pakistan, it would be responded in accordance with the aspirations of the Pakistani people.
Ghafoor said India’s destabilising role was the biggest obstacle in regional peace, and it did not want Pakistan to succeed in its war against terrorism.
The DG ISPR said that the Coalition Support Fund was meant for the war in Afghanistan. “Pakistan and the United States are allies and they need to work together,” he added. “We have taken action against the Haqqani network and its effects will be visible in due time.”
In response to the US president’s statement, the country’s civil and military leadership on Tuesday showed an unprecedented restraint, saying they would not act in haste despite the onslaught.