Pakistan's Imran Khan talks U.S. relations as elections loom

Islamabad felt 'betrayed' at US criticism, army chief says

Pakistanis are still outraged two weeks after Trump's New Year's Day tweet accusing Islamabad of "deceit and lies", and of taking $33 billion in aid over 15 years while harboring Afghan insurgents, who are attacking American soldiers in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said the return of the refugees is prerequisite in a bid to help the Pakistani forces deny safe havens to the Afghan militants.

Of course, Pakistan might ultimately be bluffing, but its best bet is nevertheless to play the Afghan card in one capacity or another as an asymmetrical response to the US.

During the phone calls, the Pakistani Army Chief told Gen. Votel that the entire nation felt betrayed over the recent United States allegations despite decades of cooperation between the two countries.

General Bajwa, according to the report, told General Votel that the "entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed" over the USA statements though he assured him that Pakistan would continue to support peace efforts in the region despite being made a "scapegoat".

Khan said that Trump scapegoated Pakistan for the US -led coalition's failure to defeat the Taliban and bring peace to Afghanistan, and that "it was very insulting of him".

The US aid suspension was announced days after Trump tweeted on January 1 that the United States had foolishly given Pakistan $33 billion in aid over 15 years and was rewarded with "nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools".

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On Friday, the Pakistan Army disclosed that the USA has assured Pakistan that no unilateral action on its territory is being planned despite the suspension of military aid and a flurry of hostile statements.

Trump has been less charitable towards Pakistan.

A Central Command spokesman confirmed Votel's contact with Bajwa.

General Bajwa categorically said that Pakistan would not seek resumption of aid but expet honorable recognition of the contributions, sacrifices and unwavering resolve in the fight against terrorism for peace and stability in the region.

Such a move, however, is likely to provoke Islamabad to block air and ground routes that USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops depend on to conduct counterterrorism operations and transport vital military supplies to landlocked Afghanistan.

However, the USA military is also concerned that the Pakistani army, which effectively runs foreign policy, might close the air and land corridors on which US-led troops and Afghan forces in landlocked Afghanistan depend for supplies.

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