Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Cabinet meeting told Pakistan has several options after US aid withdrawal: sources

'Civil-military leadership is on same page under present circumstances,' foreign minister tells participants of cabinet meeting


ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif Wednesday told a meeting of the federal cabinet that Pakistan has several options in response to withdrawal of aid by the United States, sources told Geo News.

The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, was the second such huddle amid heightened tensions between the two nations.

"The civil-military leadership is on the same page under present circumstances," sources quoted the foreign minister telling the participants.

"The US withdrawal of aid to Pakistan will not make any difference; Pakistan too, has several options."

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the US was withholding $255 million in aid to Islamabad, accusing Pakistan of failing to cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism.

The announcement came after President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of giving nothing but lies and deceit, thinking US leaders to be fools.

"They give safe havens to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" he said in a tweet on Monday.

Sources further said the federal cabinet reposed its confidence in the decisions of the National Security Committee (NSC).

Islamabad had reacted strongly and summoned the US ambassador in a rare public rebuke after Trump's allegations.

On Tuesday, the Pakistani civil-military leadership expressed disappointment over the US president's anti-Pakistan statement, however, decided not to take measures in haste in reply to US allegations.

Trump's comments "struck with great insensitivity" and "negated the decades of sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation", read a press statement issued after the NSC meeting in Islamabad.

It said that Pakistan cannot be blamed for failures in Afghanistan and accusing allies will not lead to the establishment of peace in the neighbouring country.

The federal cabinet also approved notifying provisional results of Census 2017, the state TV reported.

According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the district and tehsil-level record of blocks is being handed over to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for timely conduct of General Elections 2018.

According to the provisional results, the total population of Pakistan is about 208 million, whereas Punjab counts for 110 million people, Sindh 47.8, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 30.5, Balochistan 12.3, FATA five, and Islamabad two million people.