Tim Frakes Productions

A Response to Trump Pakistan Tweet

On January 1, 2018 US President Donald Trump published a Twitter message stating, “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!”

Two days later, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley confirmed the administration will withhold $255 million in aid to Pakistan.The Pakistani government responded that recent comments from US leaders were “completely incomprehensible” and could damage the trust between the countries.

Launched in 2011, the US-Pakistan Interreligious Consortium, (UPIC) became a nonpartisan, interreligious alliance consisting of religious, academic and community leaders from over fifty Pakistani and American civil society organizations and I’m proud to be a part of it.

In 2013, 14, 16 and again in 2017 I had the privilege of traveling to Pakistan with the UPIC team. We met with a broad range of Pakistani civil, government, military, and religious society. We witnessed first hand the passionate desire on the part of Pakistani’s to reach out to the global community with a message of good will and cooperation. We also interviewed Pakistani’s who risk their lives confronting extremism and destabilization brought on by instability in neighboring Afghanistan.

The topic of Bin Ladin in Pakistan is interesting. It’s worth noting that since 9/11, Pakistan paid the terrorism butchers bill at a far higher rate than has the the United States.

The annual death toll from terrorist attacks has risen from 164 in 2003 to 3318 in 2009, with a total of 35,000 Pakistanis killed between 11 September 2001 and May 2011. One estimate shows a total of more than 60,000 to date.

According to the government of Pakistan, the direct and indirect economic costs of terrorism from 2000–2010 total $68 billion.

Shortly after our team departed Lahore, Pakistan in 2016, terrorists detonated a bomb in a crowded park filled with families (many Christian) celebrating Easter. Hundreds were killed and maimed. This spike in terrorism in Pakistan coincides with the US invasion of Afghanistan.

Imagine an insurgent group operating inside US territory, but before the US had full control of its vast western territory. Say, Arizona in the 1870’s. Then imagine a foreign invasion of Mexico forcing tens of thousands of refugees sprinkled with insurgents and other foreign fighters seeping over the Arizona/Mexico border.

In this, scenario, would Washington struggle to control insurgents who were launching attacks in both the US and Mexico? I think so.

Interestingly, a large percentage of Pakistanis reject the idea that Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. It’s sort of the Pakistani version of “Fake news”.

I’ve no doubt that Bin Ladin found quite refuge in Abbottabad under the noses of the Pakistani military. It’s even likely some members of the Pakistani military were complicit in aiding and abetting him. This likelihood however, does not justify the inditement of an entire nation.

In response to the recent escalation of rhetoric and the potential for a destructive erosion of future US/Pakistan relations, I encourage members of the UPIC team, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and all people of good will, to call on US and Pakistani leadership to reflect on the faithful foundations of their respective societies and renew efforts to find sustainable paths toward a just constructive and peaceful relationship between both societies. In honor of the late Dr. Mumtaz Ahmad, whose guiding spirit helped launch and sustain UPIC over the six years of its life, we cannot remain silent.”

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