On Tuesday, Trump administration officials joined the president to criticize Pakistan’s commitment to Afghanistan’s stability, accusing Islamabad of playing “a double game for years.”
The comments by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, H.R. McMaster, the national-security-adviser, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokesperson, are likely to increase the pressure on Pakistan, which is still smarting over the president’s first tweet of the year:
The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
While the topic of U.S. assistance for Pakistan may seem an odd one for Trump’s first tweet of the year, he’s long signaled his intention to get Pakistan to adhere to U.S. interests in Afghanistan. Those interests don’t always align with Pakistan’s own interests in the region. Pakistan has worked with the U.S. at times, Haley said, but it also “harbor[s] the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan.” McMaster told VOA that Pakistan “goes after terrorist and insurgent groups very selectively and uses others as an arm of their foreign policy.” While the U.S. has long urged Pakistan to do more to curb militancy in Afghanistan, it has never explicitly appeared to link aid to cooperation, as Trump did in his New Year’s day tweet. But that missive was a long time coming.