Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (R) listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican members of the Senate about immigration at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RC1392C5E5E0
Washington: President Donald Trump defended his administration’s decision to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, saying the country does not do “a damn thing” for the US and its government had helped Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden hide near its garrison city.
Referring to Laden and his former compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Donald Trump in an interview to Fox News said, “You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer.”
The compound was demolished shortly after US Naval Special Warfare Development Group forces, in a daring helicopter raid, killed Laden there in 2011.
“But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there,” he added.
“And we give Pakistan USD 1.3 billion a year. … (Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them USD 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,” he said.
The ties between the two countries strained after Trump, while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in August last year, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists.
In September, the Trump administration cancelled USD 300 million in military aid to Islamabad for not doing enough against terror groups active on its soil.
Trump also said that he has plans to visit Iraq and Afghanistan to meet American troops stationed there.
“Well, I think you will see that happen. There are things that are being planned. We don’t want to talk about it because of — obviously because of security reasons and everything else,” he said.
Trump has been criticized by his political opponents for not visiting either Afghanistan or Iraq in the first two years of his presidency.