Pakistan has summoned the U.S. chargé d'affaires in Islamabad to protest against President Donald Trump's criticism of Pakistan's role in fighting terrorism and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Trump's remarks in the past several days have angered Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who on November 19 retorted by saying on Twitter that few allies have sacrificed or helped Washington as much as Pakistan in its war against terrorism.
The tension threatens to further fray relations between the two countries which have repeatedly clashed about the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan's alleged support for militants.
"The Foreign Secretary called in the U.S. CdA [chargé d'affaires] Ambassador Paul Jones to register a strong protest on the unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations made against Pakistan," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on November 20 in Islamabad.
Over the weekend, Trump said in an interview that Pakistan doesn't "do a damn thing" for the United States despite billions of dollars in U.S. aid, and he alleged that Pakistani officials knew bin Laden's location before his killing by U.S. troops in a raid inside Pakistan in 2011.
"Rejecting the insinuations about OBL [Osama bin Laden], Foreign Secretary reminded the US CdA that it was Pakistan's intelligence cooperation that provided the initial evidence to trace the whereabouts of OBL," the ministry said, adding that "baseless rhetoric about Pakistan was totally unacceptable."
As part of Trump's effort to resolve the 17-year war in Afghanistan, Washington has escalated pressure on Pakistan, whose assistance the U.S. believes is needed to compel the Taliban to agree to negotiate with the government in Kabul.
In his interview with Fox News television,Trump had said he canceled hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid to Pakistan.
That comment drew an immediate response from Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who on November 19 said his country had suffered 75,000 casualties and lost billions of dollars during the U.S.-led war in neighboring Afghanistan.
With reporting by AP and AFP