President Trump's first tweet of 2018 was about Pakistan. He said that despite the U.S. giving billions in aid, Pakistan has given, quote, "nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more," end quote. So how is Pakistan responding? Let's ask NPR's Diaa Hadid, who's in Islamabad. Hi, Diaa.
DIAA HADID, BYLINE: Good morning.
MARTIN: Good morning. So what has been the immediate response from Pakistan?
HADID: It's been anger. Last night, Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador to complain about the tweet. The defense minister fired off his own tweet that accused the United States, quote, "of giving nothing but invective and mistrust." Tonight there'll be a national security committee meeting that's going to be attended by ministers and military officials to reassess the relationship with the United States. And what we modestly expect is that they'll at least say that they are actively seeking out other allies, and they've been courting Russia for a while. And really, like, at the heart of what people are angry about is that Trump described the relationship with Pakistan in dollar terms. Pakistan's an old ally of the United States, and it was an ally in the war on terror. And so I spoke to Shahzad Chaudhry — he's a retired military official — just to get a sense of what people were thinking.
SHAHZAD CHAUDHRY: The U.S. looks at Pakistan as a transactional nation not an ally. The Pakistanis have a sense of anger, sense of frustration and sense of disappointment when they look at the U.S. and especially the president of the United States.MARTIN: This isn't a new idea though. The U.S. government has long maintained that Pakistan shelters terrorist groups. I mean, Osama bin Laden was found there. So Donald Trump calling them out for this shouldn't have come as such a surprise, right?
HADID: Right, but the timing was definitely a surprise. It was the first tweet on January, 2018. And what seems to have changed here is the tenor. It was quite an aggressive tweet. And it also seems to reflect that the Trump administration specifically sees Pakistan as the reason why it's not, quote, unquote, "winning" in Afghanistan. It sees — it accuses Pakistan of harboring the Taliban, which is conducting cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. So I spoke to Mosharraf Zaidi — he runs a podcast called "How To Pakistan" — to understand this a bit more.
MOSHARRAF ZAIDI: They've used this tool of kind of rhetorical coercion to see if they can scare Pakistan into doing some of the things that the U.S. would like Pakistan to do in Afghanistan.
MARTIN: All right, so this relationship has hit another roadblock. But doesn't it always? I mean, the thing is both countries need each other, so any diplomatic obstacles won't last that long — will they?
HADID: It's hard to tell. I mean, this relationship has gone through ups and downs over the years for sure. And — but, you know, the U.S. needs Pakistan. So it is like the chief air corridor for U.S. troops into Afghanistan. So now it's just a matter of does the U.S. have another option, and that's what we're waiting to see.
MARTIN: All right, that's NPR's Diaa Hadid. Thank you very much, Diaa.
HADID: Thank you.
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