Trump blasts Pakistan for 'lies and deceit' in his 1st tweet of the year

U.S. President Donald Trump, in his first tweet of 2018, directed his ire at Pakistan, with another veiled threat that American aid may not be forthcoming due to what he perceives as a soft stance on terrorism.

U.S. under Trump has threatened to cut off military aid for Pakistan

President Donald Trump praised Pakistan after American Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle were freed from militants in October, but has otherwise threatened to cut off military aid to the country. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Donald Trump entered his second calendar year as U.S. president on Monday, and it appears he's resolved to continue putting allies and rival nations on notice through Twitter.

Trump, in his first tweet of 2018, directed his ire at Pakistan, with another veiled threat that American aid may not be forthcoming to its uneasy partner since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 due to what he perceives as a soft stance on terrorism.

"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 [and] deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools," Trump said on Twitter. "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

It's unclear what prompted Trump to tweet about Pakistan at this time. His social media attention in recent days, which he has spent at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, has concerned everything from the ongoing protests in Iran, the U.S. economy, frigid temperatures in the Northeast and Amazon's business practices.

But Monday's tweet is consistent with Trump's comments in his first year as president, during which he promised a "new approach" to dealing with Pakistan.

When announcing a troop increase in Afghanistan in August, Trump said Pakistan was too often a "safe haven for agents of chaos, violence and terror."

"It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order and to peace," he said later in the Aug. 21 speech.

Pakistan had no official comment on Monday, but Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted that his government was preparing a response that "will let the world know the truth."

Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan's ambassador in Washington, said in a Twitter posting on Monday that Trump's tweet was a "promising message to Afghans who have suffered at the hands of terrorists based in Pakistan for far too long."

Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were among those in the administration to praise Pakistan in October after security officials there rescued from captivity of American Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle and their children.

"I have openly said Pakistan took tremendous advantage of our country for many years, but we're starting to have a real relationship with Pakistan, and they're to respect us as a nation again, and so are other nations," he said at the time.

U.S.-India ties appear strengthened

However, last week, the New York Times reported that the administration has since been angered by the fact U.S. intelligence officials were denied access to question one of the suspects of the Haqqani network detained in the Boyle-Coleman kidnapping.

According to the report, the U.S. has given Pakistan approximately $33 billion US in aid since 2002. The Trump administration has withheld $255 million that has been earmarked for military assistance to Pakistan, the report said.
President Donald Trump, with wife Melania, speaks with reporters after arriving for a New Year's Eve gala at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Dec. 31 in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump was up early on New Year's Day, using social media to express his thoughts on Pakistan and Iran. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Trump said in laying out his national security strategy on Dec. 18 that "while we desire continue partnership [with Pakistan], we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory."

The president has also expressed concern about relationship between Pakistan and India, nuclear-capable rivals. Trump met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on two occasions in 2017, with both leaders expressing warmth towards each other.

Trump has only met briefly with new Pakistani PM Abbasi, who had a more extensive sitdown with Vice-President Mike Pence in September.

Abbasi has said in interviews Pakistan is committed to the fight against terrorism, and has suffered significant casualties through the years due to deadly attacks from militant groups.

But trust between the two countries has been shaky.

In 2011, Pakistan was not advised as the U.S. conducted a covert operation that killed Osama bin Laden in the military garrison town of Abbottabad, about 118 kilometres from the capital of Islamabad.

Pakistan recently was among the countries to condemn the U.S. for announcing it would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with the goal of eventually moving the American embassy there.

Meanwhile, within an hour of his Pakistan tweet, Trump again expressed support for Iranian protesters on Twitter.

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters