Wed, Jan 03, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Pakistan calls diplomat over Trump tweet

‘TERRORIST FRONTS’:The government has ordered a takeover of charities run by Hafiz Saeed in what would be its first move against the Muslim leader’s network

Reuters, ISLAMABAD

Pakistan summoned the US ambassador, David Hale, in protest against US President Donald Trump’s angry tweet about Pakistan’s “lies and deceit,” while Pakistani Minister of Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif dismissed the outburst as a political stunt.

Hale was on Monday summoned by the Pakistani foreign office to explain Trump’s tweet, media said. A spokesperson for the US embassy in Islamabad confirmed the meeting took place.

Trump had on Monday said the US has “foolishly” handed Pakistan more than US$33 billion in aid over the past 15 years and had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit.”

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi yesterday was to chair a Cabinet meeting that focused on Trump’s tweet, while today the nation’s top civilian and military chiefs are to meet to discuss deteriorating US ties.

Washington has signaled to Pakistan that it would cut aid and enact other punitive measures if Islamabad did not stop helping or turning a blind eye to the Haqqani network militants who carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

Asif dismissed Trump’s comments as a political stunt borne out of frustration over US failures in Afghanistan, where Afghan Taliban militants have been gaining territory and carrying out major attacks.

“He has tweeted against us and Iran for his domestic consumption,” Asif told Geo TV on Monday. “He is again and again displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in dead-end street in Afghanistan.”

A US National Security Council official on Monday said the White House did not plan to send US$255 million in aid to Pakistan “at this time,” adding that “the administration continues to review Pakistan’s level of cooperation.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s government plans to seize control of charities and financial assets linked to Muslim leader Hafiz Saeed, who Washington has designated a terrorist, according to officials and documents.

Pakistan’s civilian government detailed its plans on Dec. 19 in a secret order to various provincial and federal government departments, three officials who attended one of several high-level meeting discussing the crackdown told reporters.

Marked “secret,” a document from the Pakistani Ministry of Finance directed law enforcement and governments in the nation’s five provinces to submit an action plan by Thursday last week for a “takeover” of Saeed’s two charities, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF).

The US has labeled JuD and FIF “terrorist fronts” for Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group Saeed founded in 1987 that Washington and India blame for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.

The Dec. 19th document, which refers to “Financial Action Task Force [FATF] issues,” names only Saeed’s two charities and “actions to be taken” against them.

The FATF, which is an international body that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, has warned Pakistan it faces inclusion on a watch list for failing to crack down on financing terrorism.

Asked about a crackdown on JuD and FIF, Pakistani Minister of the Interior Ahsan Iqbal, who cochaired one of the meetings on the plan, responded only generally, saying he has ordered authorities “to choke the fundraising of all proscribed outfits in Pakistan.”

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