Islamabad, Jan 03: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a press conference on Wednesday asserted that the PML-N government does not care for United States (US) threats to cut funding to Islamabad in the war against terrorism.
The former premier’s statements come amid a war of words between Islamabad and Washington, as US President Donald Trump lashed out at Pakistan in a harshly-worded tweet on New Year’s day after which the administration suspended $255 million in military aid to Pakistan.
Describing Trump’s tweet as “non-serious” and “sad”, Sharif said, “A head of state should remember the rules of engagement while addressing a fellow state.”
“We should not be taunted [about US aid],” he said, speaking to reporters in Islamabad, a day after his return from Saudi Arabia, where he met top officials with his brother Shahbaz Sharif.
The ex-PM said he would “advise Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to formulate a plan that ensures we don’t need any US aid so that such attacks are not made on our self-respect.”
“Pakistan is the only country to have paid such a heavy price since 9/11. No other country has faced the kind of human and economic losses as Pakistan has,” he said.
“We have been engaged in a war for 17 years, even though it is technically not even our war.”
“The US president should know that as soon as we, the PML-N, came into power in 2013, we took effective steps to end terrorism in Pakistan,” he said.
“At that time, we began Operation Zarb-i-Azb, and today the backs of terrorists have been broken and the rest will soon be taken care of. This is not 2001. A dictator is not ruling the country, and one telephone call will not scare us.”
“A coalition fund should not be called ‘aid’. We do not even need such a fund and our support should not be demanded in return,” he asserted.
“I am sure if in 2001, a democratic government was in place in Pakistan instead of a dictatorship, then it would never have sold its expertise to the US. It would neither have sold our expertise, nor our self-respect,” he added.
“I have been the PM of this country thrice. A lot of facts are in front of me. As a respectable citizen of Pakistan, I would like for us, as a nation, to assess our own situation,” he urged, quoting poet Allama Iqbal who said that a nation which keeps assessing itself is like a sword in the hands of fate.
“I have always said that we should look at ourselves often and ask ourselves why the world does not take us seriously. But every time I have said this, the comment has not been taken seriously and sometimes it has been termed as ‘Dawn leaks’ and at other times as other conspiracy theories.”
“We should ask ourselves why the world never listens to us in spite of the countless sacrifices that our police, security forces, civilians and even children have given over the past 17 years. Why is our narrative not being accepted?” he questioned. “We need to search for the answers to these questions.”
“If these questions are sidelined and the answers for them are not sought, then it would count as self-deception. It is because of these self-deceptions that Pakistan has been polarised in the first place. We should step away from this self-deception now, and the country’s leadership – all its institutions – should join hands to find the answers to these questions and provide solutions to them.”
“If we want our future to be different than our present and our past, and that no country should take a shot at our self-respect, then we will have to act like a living nation and go through this process of self-assessment.”

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