STREAMING NOW: Watch Now
CLOSINGS: View Closings

Trump's unfair attack on Pakistan

President Donald Trump's first tweet of 2018 has renewed tension between the United States and Pakistan. It read, "Th...

Posted: Jan 4, 2018 6:49 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2018 6:49 PM

President Donald Trump's first tweet of 2018 has renewed tension between the United States and Pakistan. It read, "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

Aside from the fact that Trump's tweet is factually incorrect -- Pakistan has received less aid than stated -- his words also isolated a critical ally in the war on terror. Without Pakistan by its side, the United States will struggle to find a clear endgame in Afghanistan and a viable partner in South Asia.

That said, Trump's tweets are just the latest installment in a series of diplomatic setbacks since last summer, when the White House unveiled its Afghanistan policy, which singled out Pakistan for providing "safe havens for terrorist organizations" and asked it to do more to target militants and demonstrate its commitment to peace and security.

What followed were a series of canceled diplomatic visits, demands from the US secretary of defense that Pakistan "redouble" its efforts against Islamist militants, and, most recently, the Trump administration's first national security strategy, in which the President reminded Pakistan that it is obliged to help the United States because it receives "massive payments."

In response to Trump's latest tweet, Pakistan Minister for Defense Khurram Dastgir Khan tweeted from his official account: "Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al Qaeda over last 16yrs, but they have given us nothing but invective & mistrust. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis."

And the minister is not wrong. Pakistan has made huge sacrifices on behalf of the United States.

Facts matter. As does math. Trump's claim of "33 billion dollars in aid" is based on a number provided by the Congressional Research Service, which documents allocated aid -- but not actual dispersed funds. This figure is a sum of $19 billion in security and economic aid and an additional $14.59 billion from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), which reimburses US allies for logistical and military support.

However, since 2001, according to USAID, the US has only given Pakistan $14.79 billion in civilian and military aid, and funds from the CSF have periodically been revised, delayed or blocked. Not all of the allocated funds have been disbursed, due to concerns regarding Pakistan's efforts to target Islamist militant groups, such as the Haqqani network, aligned with the Afghan Taliban and responsible for launching attacks in Afghanistan.

As US officials question Pakistan's commitment, Pakistani officials claim that Pakistan has done more than enough in confronting terrorism within its borders. The Haqqanis, among other militant groups, have been targeted in military operations conducted in the tribal areas for Pakistan's own national security interest.

A country susceptible to growing extremism, Pakistan's fight against terrorism has shown illustrative successes. In August 2017, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa stated that due to various military operations, the most recent being Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad -- launched in February 2017 to eliminate residual terrorism and consolidate the gains made from previous operations -- there were no longer "safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan."

And in October 2017, Pakistan's foreign minister, Khawaja Asif, invited American authorities to visit Pakistan and said, "If they find any activity [of Haqqanis] in the targeted areas, our troops along with the US would destroy them once and for all."

Furthermore, in 2017, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations, Major Gen. Asif Ghafoor, released figures stating that intelligence agencies had foiled 477 terrorist plots within the country.

And the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), which measures the impact of terrorism around the world, also shows a marked decline in terrorism-related violence in Pakistan since 2014, in part attributable to military operations targeting militants in tribal areas. While all terrorism has not been eliminated, Pakistan has made major strides for a country once considered a Taliban safe haven.

But it's also worth noting that much of the US aid that has been received ignores the economic and human cost of war on Pakistan. Pakistan's Ministry of Finance estimates that since the country became a frontline ally to the United States, its economy has suffered close to a $123.1 billion loss. This number factors in loss of life, economic opportunity and damaged infrastructure. On civilian casualties alone, a 2015 report issued by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War places the number at 48,504 death between 2003-2015. Speaking with CNN in August 2017, one of Pakistan's most prominent political leaders, Imran Khan, places the number even higher at 70,000 casualties.

And it is wrong to assume that Washington would disburse aid to nations of no strategic significance or political value if they don't further American strategic objectives. Any aid to Pakistan has helped fulfill American interests not only in its war in Afghanistan, but in South Asia at large. Pakistan is a key player in combating terrorism and establishing a democratic regime in Afghanistan. After all, it is in Pakistan's interest to have a western neighbor that is economically and politically stable.

Which is to say neither Pakistan nor the United States can afford to act solely based on rhetoric. While Twitter makes for great political posturing, international politics is a game that requires realistic analysis of state capacity, calculated risk assessments and diplomatic overtures.

In Pakistan, at least for now, it seems that cooler heads will prevail. While attempting to take the high road, on Tuesday, Pakistan's National Security Committee reached the consensus that the state "cannot act in haste" and would remain committed to playing a constructive role in the region.

And the country's fiery foreign minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, has already publicly offered to hire a US-based audit firm "on our expenses" to verify the $33 billion aid figure and "let the world know who is lying & deceiving."

That is not to say that Pakistan's political elite or the general population will remain silent and let the President belittle their nation indefinitely. With 2018 likely to usher in new elections, Pakistanis are deeply united on not tolerating further American pressure or rhetorical attack.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 68°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Mostly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 68°
Little bits and pieces of low pressure move back into our area over the next several days. This will bring back into our weather forecast some more chances for some isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather