ISLAMABAD: In light of the US decision to cut nearly all American security aid to Pakistan, the country’s defence minister has announced that Islamabad will begin purchasing more weapons from China, Russia and other Eastern European countries.
“We have a long relationship with the US and we want to keep it,” Khurram Dastgir Khan assured Bloomberg in an interview, before adding that his country would, nonetheless, increasingly acquire weapons from countries other than the US.
Relations between Pakistan and the US have deteriorated rapidly since August when Trump began accusing Pakistan of taking aid while simultaneously supporting armed groups that attack US forces and allies in Afghanistan. The tension reached a high point in early January when Trump began accusing Pakistan of accepting billions in US aid without giving anything in return.
Foreign Affairs Minister Khawaja Asif accused Trump of lying about the amount of aid the US gives Pakistan. Days later, the Trump administration announced that it would cut all security funding until Pakistan begins cracking down on the activities of the Taliban on its territory and in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has been increasingly turning to China for military aid. Beijing is now building an offshore naval base near a strategic Pakistani port.
Experts say it is typical for Pakistan to turn to other world powers when its relationship with the US sours, but Trump’s harsh rhetoric towards Pakistan is out of the ordinary.
Khurram Dastgir also said suggested that Pakistan could play a role in brokering peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government.