Pakistan lambasted the United States’ criticisms of its counter-terrorism efforts, saying it should not be made a scapegoat for the failure of the U.S. military in the so-called War on Terror in Afghanistan.
The comments came in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s new policy announcements this week on increasing his nation's troop numbers there dramatically.
Trump claimed Islamabad was not fighting terrorism strongly enough, and warned aid to the country could be cut.
He added that Washington might downgrade Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally.
Pakistan's military chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, met with the U.S. Ambassador David Hale and said the country is “working for peace in Afghanistan.”
"We have done a lot ... and shall keep on doing our best, not to appease anyone but in line with our national interest and national policy," Bajwa was quoted in an army press statement as telling Hale.
The Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif also weighed in, saying, "They should not make Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures in Afghanistan.”
Asif reiterated Pakistan's denial that it harbors militants, as critics hold that the Pakistani military collaborates with other Islamist factions, including the Afghan Taliban, who they use in their confrontation with long-time rival India.
Sami-ul Haq, a Pakistani cleric who runs a seminary where many senior Afghan Taliban members have studied, also angrily condemned the United States.
"America is the enemy of the Muslim ummah (community)," Haq told a press briefing, reported Reuters.
"The government of Pakistan should quit the alliance for war against so-called terrorism," he added. "The heavens will not fall if America gets angry with us."
In the wake of Trump’s comments, China, another ally of Pakistan’s, came to the country’s defense.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the South Asian nation has been on the front line in the struggle against terrorism, having made "great sacrifices" and "important contributions" in the fight.
"We believe that the international community should fully recognize Pakistan's anti-terrorism," she told a daily news briefing.