US must assess why Afghan Taliban is getting stronger despite 140,000 NATO troops, 250,000 Afghan troops, and $1 trillion spent in Afghanistan, Imran Khan responds to Trump's remarks that Islamabad doesn't "do a damn thing" for Washington.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan says Islamabad has borne the brunt of the US war on terror, saying
Pakistan PM Imran Khan says Islamabad has borne the brunt of the US war on terror, saying "Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?" (Reuters Archive)

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday slammed US President Donald Trump following his remarks that Pakistan doesn't "do a damn thing" for the United States despite billions of dollars in US aid for the South Asian nation.

The friction threatens to further worsen already fragile relations between Islamabad and Washington, on-off allies who have repeatedly clashed about the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan's alleged support for the Afghan Taliban.

Khan, who was voted to power in August, said in a series of tweets that the "record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump's tirade against Pakistan," over the weekend.

Pakistan on Tuesday summoned the US Chargé d'Affaires in Islamabad to protest against Trump's remarks. 

Pakistan, a 'scapegoat'

Trump, during a Fox News TV interview that aired on Sunday, defended cutting aid to Islamabad and also suggested Pakistani authorities knew Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's location prior to his killing by US troops in a raid inside Pakistan in 2011.

Pakistan denies supporting Afghan Taliban waging war against US-backed troops in Afghanistan and Islamabad has also always rejected claims officials aided bin Laden.

"Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before," Khan tweeted.

Trump rhetoric

Trump, in a pre-recorded interview, said bin Laden had been living in "a nice mansion" in Pakistan next to a military academy and "everybody in Pakistan knew he was there."

"And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. ...(bin Laden) lived in Pakistan, we're supporting Pakistan, we're giving them $1.3 billion a year - which we don't give them anymore, by the way. I ended it because they don't do anything for us, they don't do a damn thing for us."

Khan said Pakistan had borne the brunt of the United States' war on terror, which focused on militants that straddle the Afghanistan-Pakistan tribal belt.

The cricketer-turned politician had always objected to Pakistan's involvement in the US war in Afghanistan and advocated for holding talks with militants over military action, earning the nickname "Taliban Khan" from his critics. 

Pakistan had joined Washington's so-called "war on terror" as a close ally in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Former military dictator General (r) Pervez Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan at that time, later said the decision to side with America was taken after then US assistant secretary of state, Richard Armitage, had conveyed Washington's message that if Islamabad refused to cooperate, it would bomb Pakistan "back to the stone age."

$123 billion loss to Pakistan economy

"No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror," Khan said. "Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US "aid" was a minuscule $20 bn."

Khan also pointed out that Pakistan continued to provide its roads and air space for re-supplying more than 10,000 US troops currently based in Afghanistan.

"Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?"

Taliban 'not losing'

On Saturday, US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford said Taliban are not losing in Afghanistan.

"They are not losing right now, I think that is fair to say," he said.

"We used the term stalemate a year ago and relatively speaking it hasn’t changed much, but ... we do believe that the Taliban know that at some point they have to reconcile."

In his first tweet of 2018, Trump slammed Pakistan, saying the country has rewarded past US aid with "nothing but lies & deceit." Washington announced plans later in January to suspend up to roughly $2 billion in US security assistance to Pakistan.

While the Trump administration and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government are making efforts to reach a settlement with the Afghan Taliban, the fighters have continued their attacks on government forces, inflicting hundreds of casualties over recent weeks in assaults across Afghanistan.

As the Taliban have kept up pressure on the government, a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) think tank earlier this month quoted the NATO-led Resolute Support mission as saying the average number of casualties among Afghan security forces between May 1 and October 1 this year was "the greatest it has ever been during like periods".

Source: TRTWorld and agencies