>> It was a bolt out of the blue from Mar-a-Lago. Bright and early on New Year's Day, President Donald Trump tweeting out harsh criticism of Pakistan, saying it had "given us nothing but lies and deceit" in exchange for years of US aid, and ending bluntly with "No more"!
US officials now tell Reuters they were blindsided by what they saw as an abrupt policy switch, forcing them to hastily suspend the flow of security funds to the nuclear armed ally. A senior official told Reuters a small group of White House aides caught by surprise on their New Year's break, scrambled to make good on the president's unexpected decree.
Reporter Jonathan Landay says the improvised response to Trump's tweet upended the normal approach to policy.>> Generally, policy is the result of months of deliberation, formal findings, top level meetings, issuance of a formal policy notice from the White House. In this case, the idea of suspending security assistance to Pakistan had been discussed for sure.
However, there was no policy paper, there was no formal package of policy decisions in which this was embedded. This was something that was done in order to back up a tweet by the president that took US officials by total surprise. Trump's tweet reflected his frustration with Pakistan's perceived failure to close sanctuaries used by the Afghan Taliban insurgents within its own borders.
But the the tweet preempted a nearly complete US assessment of Pakistan's response to demands that it do more.>> It was until after that assessment was completed that the actual policy responses from the United States were to be put together in a cogent cohesive policy package.>> After the tweet, the Pentagon was concerned the Pakistani army, which effectively runs foreign policy, might retaliate by closing the air and land corridors US-led troops depend on for their supplies in Afghanistan but that hasn't happened yet.
But the sudden freezing up of up to $2 billions in security aid has not gone over well. One Pakistani minister saying "we were seriously shocked".