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Pakistan hits back at 'incomprehensible' Trump tweet

Pakistan has hit back after US President Donald Trump accused it of harbouring terrorists, denouncing his New Year's Day tweet as "completely incomprehensible."

The government summoned the US ambassador to complain but stopped short of demands by protesting Islamic groups to expel the envoy.

The latest round of tit-for-tat attacks between the two countries was ignited by Mr Trump's tweet on Monday. He said the US had "foolishly" given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars (£24 billion) in aid in the last 15 years and had received nothing in return but "lies & deceit".

He also reiterated longstanding allegations that Pakistan gives "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan".

A statement issued after a National Security Committee meeting, which was attended by Pakistan's prime minister and the powerful army chief of staff, said the US was making Pakistan a scapegoat for its own failure to bring peace to Afghanistan after 16 years of war.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have long accused each other of harbouring militants, and have exchanged lists of wanted terrorists they want apprehended and returned. Afghanistan has also provided what it says are the locations of militant camps inside Pakistan.

Pakistan denies supporting militants, pointing to its own war against extremist groups battling to overthrow the government. It blames the burgeoning insurgency in Afghanistan on runaway corruption, infighting that has paralysed the Kabul government and record drug production.

Pakistan says the chaos next door has spawned a proliferation of insurgent groups, including an Islamic State affiliate that has attacked it from hideouts in Afghanistan.

The National Security Committee statement said Pakistan is among the countries hardest hit by terrorist attacks, having lost thousands of civilians and soldiers to the violence that has convulsed the region since the September 11 attacks.

The contradictions at the heart of US-Pakistani relations were on display on Tuesday, when the Jamaat-ud-Dawa movement held protests in Lahore calling for the expulsion of the US ambassador.

The group is headed by Hafiz Saeed, who also founded the militant group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The State Department has offered a 10 million dollar (£7.3m) reward for Saeed, who is wanted on terrorism charges, but he lives openly in Pakistan and frequently appears at public rallies.

Pakistan recently placed Saeed under house arrest for 11 months, but a court released him, citing lack of evidence.

AP

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters to expect more details on specific actions against Pakistan over the next day or two.

"In terms of Pakistan, as I said, our goal is that we know that they can do more to stop terrorism and we want them to do that. That seems pretty simple," she said.

"In terms of specific actions, I think you'll see some more details come out on that in next 24 to 48 hours."

AP

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