China today defended Pakistan saying the world community should acknowledge its all-weather ally's "outstanding contribution" to counter terrorism, a day after US President Donald Trump lashed out at Islamabad for providing safe havens to terrorists in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the United States has suspended its 255 million dollars military aid to Pakistan for now, the White House has confirmed, saying the fate of such assistance will depend on Islamabad's response to terrorism on its soil.
In a scathing attack on Pakistan, Trump had accused it of "lies and deceit" and of fooling US leaders while sheltering terrorists.
The confirmation comes on the same day when US President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.
"The United States does not plan to spend the USD 255 million in FY 2016 in Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan at this time," a senior administration official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
"The president has made clear the US expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil, and that Pakistan's actions in support of the South Asia Strategy will ultimately determine the trajectory of our relationship, including future security assistance," he said.
The US administration continues to review Pakistan's level of cooperation, the official said.
Earlier in the day, US President Donald Trump, in his first tweet of the New Year, blasted the Pakistan leadership by saying that they have given America "nothing but lies and deceit" despite having received more than USD 33 billion in last 15 years.
"They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" Trump said, clearly indicating that Pakistan would no longer receive any security aid from the US till the time it sees a change in behaviour from them in fight against terrorism.
Within hours, the Pakistani Defence Ministry fired back alleging that it has got "nothing but invective and mistrust" for all the actions it took in support of America's war against terrorism.
"Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs, but they have given us nothing but invective & mistrust. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis," the Pakistan Defence Ministry said in a tweet.
Mr Trump who returned to the White House from Mar-a-Lago in Florida where he spent his Christmas and New Year vacation did not respond to shouted questions from reporters on "what is your plan on Pakistan?"
Several US lawmakers came out in support of President Trump adopting a tough approach on Pakistan.
"I support the decision today by President Trump to end aid to Pakistan," Republican Congressman Markwayne Mullin from Oklahoma said.
"You're either with the US, or against us. We will always help our friends, but for too long, the US has propped up countries that do not share our goal to end terrorism. I'm proud to see our president take bold steps to put America first," Mr Mullin said.
"I couldn't agree more. I've been fighting to end aid to Pakistan for years and will again lead the charge in the Senate," tweeted Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky.
Samantha Vinograd, CNN's national security analyst spoke in favour of Trump's move.
"As a way to make it clear to the Pakistanis that enough is enough, if President Trump actually follows through, it could be an effective move," she said in an opinion piece published on the CNN website.
"It isn't the only step by any means, but it could be the right one," she said.
"Great start. Why give millions to countries who would harbor our enemies?" Trump's son Donald Trump Jr tweeted yesterday.
Today China, on expected lines, praised Pakistan's for its sacrifices and counter terrorism record.
"Pakistan has made enormous efforts and sacrifice for the fight against terrorism and has made very outstanding contribution to the global cause of counter terrorism. The international community should acknowledge that," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said here when asked about Trump's criticism of Pakistan.
He said China is glad to see Pakistan engaging in international cooperation, including counter terrorism, on the basis of mutual respect so as to contribute to regional peace and stability.
"China and Pakistan are all weather partners. We stand ready to promote and deepen our all-round cooperation so as to bring benefits to the two sides," Geng said.
China is currently investing heavily in Pakistan as part of the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) over which India has raised objections as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
During the first ever trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan here last week, Beijing had announced plans to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan which shares close ties with India.
Afghanistan also accuses Pakistan of sheltering Taliban militants, leading to a long running spat between the two countries. China is seeking to mediate between the two neighbours through the trilateral mechanism.
Analysts here say US is mounting pressure on Pakistan as it has firmed up an alliance with Beijing by allowing heavy Chinese investments in the strategic CPEC corridor providing China access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Asked whether Trump's criticism would affect China's efforts to bring peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Geng said "We believe as neighbours China, Pakistan and Afghanistan are closely linked not only geographically but also in terms of common interests. It is natural for us to enhance communication and exchanges".
He said during the December 26 trilateral meet, the three countries "reached a lot of consensus" on cooperation.
This included the three nations enhancing cooperation on counter terrorism and fighting against terrorism in all forms and manifestations.
"The parties will enhance cooperation in this regard," Geng said.