US President Donald Trump on Monday lashed out at Pakistan and accused it of "lies and deceit" in return of the $33 billion aid the US gave it in the last 15 years.
"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," Trump said in a strongly worded tweet.
"They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" Trump said in his first tweet of the year.
This is the strongest warning yet from the US president.
The US, which has provided Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid since 2002, said in August that it was withholding the $255 million until Pakistan did more to crackdown on terrorist groups.
An announcement from Trump was around the corner as reports emerged a couple of days ago saying the administration was strongly considering to withhold the $255 million in aid to Pakistan, reflecting dissatisfaction with Islamabad’s inaction against terror networks.
Earlier this month, Trump had already hinted that he may cut off the aid for good.
"We make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help," he said in unveiling his national security strategy. And last week, Vice President Mike Pence told American troops during a visit to Afghanistan: "President Trump has put Pakistan on notice."
In August last year, the US had warned an angry Pakistan that it could lose its status as a privileged military ally if it continues giving safe haven to Afghan terrorist groups. One day after President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy to force the Taliban to negotiate a political settlement with the Kabul government, his top diplomat upped the heat on Islamabad.
Trump had warned that Pakistan's support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network would have consequences, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had spelled these out.
"We have some leverage," Tillerson had told reporters, as he fleshed out Trump's speech, "in terms of aid, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner -- all of that can be put on the table."
As one of 16 "Non-NATO Major Allies," Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in aid and has access to some advanced US military technology banned from other countries.
Relations between the US and Pakistan have nosedived since Trump declared in his South Asia policy that Pakistan "gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror.”