President Trump opened 2018 with a social media salvo against Pakistan, accusing the Muslim-majority nation of harboring terrorists while expressing frustration that the United States has “foolishly” sent billions in aid to the country.
“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 tweeted Monday morning. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
The New York Times reported last week that the Trump administration is considering withholding $255 million in aid to Pakistan to demonstrate its dissatisfaction with how they confront terrorism in their country.
For years, the United States has had frustrations with Pakistan, a country that has been rocked by terrorist attacks and whose ISI intelligence agency is viewed suspiciously. It was in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad where Usama bin Laden hid until killed by United States Navy SEALS in 2011. Meanwhile, the country is still holding Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA pinpoint Bin Laden ahead of the raid.
In response to Trump’s tweet, Khawaja M. Asif, Pakistan’s foreign minister, vowed to “let the world” know the “difference between facts and fiction.”
The president also tweeted Monday about the protests breaking out inside Iran, saying its “time for change.”
“Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration,” Trump tweeted. “The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years.”
Trump said, “They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!”
The public discontent in Iran has been fanned by messages sent on the Telegram messaging app, which Iranian authorities blocked Sunday along with the photo-sharing app Instagram, which is owned by tech giant Facebook.
Trump has repeatedly tweeted support for the protesters.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized Trump in comments published Sunday. He said Trump "has forgotten that he had called Iranian people 'terrorists' a few months ago."
The president, who has spent the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, plans to return to the White House on Monday afternoon.
“Much work to be done, but it will be a great New Year!” he tweeted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.