China on Tuesday defended Pakistan, saying the world community should acknowledge its all-weather ally’s “outstanding contribution” to counter terrorism, a day after United States President Donald Trump lashed out at Islamabad for providing “safe havens” to terrorists.
In a scathing attack on Pakistan, Mr. Trump accused it of “lies and deceit” and of fooling U.S leaders while sheltering terrorists. “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,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Monday. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”, he said in a scathing criticism of Pakistan.
When asked about Mr. Trump’s criticism of Pakistan, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in Beijing, “Pakistan has made enormous efforts and sacrifice for the fight against terrorism and has made very outstanding contribution to the global cause of counter terrorism. The international community should acknowledge that.”
China was glad to see Pakistan engaging in international cooperation, including counter terrorism, on the basis of mutual respect so as to contribute to regional peace and stability. “China and Pakistan are all-weather partners. We stand ready to promote and deepen our all-round cooperation so as to bring benefits to the two sides,” Mr. Geng said.
China is currently investing heavily in Pakistan as part of the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), over which India has raised objections as it passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
Roping in Afghanistan
During the first ever trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan in Beijing last week, Beijing announced plans to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan, which shares close ties with India.
Afghanistan also accuses Pakistan of sheltering Taliban militants, leading to a long running spat between the two countries. China is seeking to mediate between the two neighbours through the trilateral mechanism.
Analysts here say U.S is mounting pressure on Pakistan as Islamabad has firmed up an alliance with Beijing by allowing heavy Chinese investments in the strategic CPEC providing China access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Asked whether Mr. Trump’s criticism would affect China’s efforts to bring peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mr. Geng said “We believe as neighbours, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan are closely linked not only geographically but also in terms of common interests. It is natural for us to enhance communication and exchanges.”
He said that during the December 26 trilateral meet, the three countries “reached a lot of consensus” on cooperation. This included enhanced cooperation on counter-terrorism and fighting against terrorism in all forms and manifestations. “The parties will enhance cooperation in this regard,” Mr. Geng said.
Trump's strongest attack on Pakistan
In his strongest attack on Pakistan yet, Mr. Trump, in his first tweet of the year on New Year’s Day, also appeared to suggest he could cut off aid to Pakistan.
His remarks came days after the New York Times reported that the U.S was considering withholding USD 225 million in aid to Pakistan, reflecting its dissatisfaction with Islamabad’s reluctance in the war against terrorism.
Unveiling his new South Asia policy in August, Mr. Trump warned of tougher measures against Pakistan if it failed to cooperate with the U.S in the fight against terror.