CNN (usually) runs on one TV in our house, and ARY News (a Pakistani news channel) runs on the other. Usually, the topics being discussed on the two channels is vastly different—for obvious reasons. However, both news channels had a similar topic of conversation on Wednesday: a strange phone call that transpired between President-Elect Donald Trump and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reportedly, Sharif called Donald Trump to congratulate him for his win—clearly going by “Desi Standard Time” as the election results came out nearly a month ago.
As per custom, the Trump campaign released a brief summary on what was discussed between the two “leaders” shortly after the conversation. Let’s be honest here, the last thing he needs on his “clean slate” of a campaign is some backlash from the world population. The Trump Team simply said that the two sides “had a productive conversation about how the United States and Pakistan will have a strong working relationship in the future.”
However, the Pakistani PM was quick to relay what he claims are exact quotes from the exchange—naturally, majority of them praising—so none of these quotes have actually been confirmed by the U.S. president-elect.
Trump reportedly said, “You have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy…As I am talking to you, Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long.” Pakistan is currently in the heartbreaking state that is in thanks in part to the “terrific guy” in the Prime Minister position. Corruption does not give a person a “very good reputation” last I checked. At the expense of its people, Pakistani leaders such as the PM have swindled money into their pockets and have turned a blind eye to the real issues in the country. With Trump praising this type of leadership, one can only be concerned.
Here are a few more of the most concerning things about this phone call:
Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed his disdain for the country of Pakistan—from attacking Hilary Clinton aide Huma Abedin for being of “Pakistani Muslim” origin to expressing his thoughts in the form of tweets:
The hypocrisy and two-facedness in the name of politics is quite frankly disgusting. “Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people,” Trump said. Ironic, because Trump has jumped on any chance he has gotten to criticize Pakistan.
Just a few weeks ago his adviser, Rudy Giuliani, said to CNN’s Jake Tapper that the proposed Muslim ban “wouldn’t be a ban, it would be extreme vetting” and he specifically indicated that this would affect six countries, one of which was Pakistan.
At the expense of its people, Pakistani leaders such as the PM have swindled money into their pockets and have turned a blind eye to the real issues in the country. With Trump praising this type of leadership, one can only be concerned.
Having said things like “Pakistan is not our friend” puts the future of the U.S. and Pakistan’s sensitive and important relationship in a confused place. Donald Trump has a lot of work to do to prove that he is capable of carrying this relationship forward, and this phone call was his first test.
But let’s be honest, he blew it.
Normally, Presidents are to the point in their conversations, and take on a more formal tone when addressing foreign leaders. The sweet-talking from Trump’s side came across as unprofessional, and definitely did not make up for the remarks he has made in the past.
The United States Relies On Its Relationship with Pakistan
The “War on Terror” that began in the Bush administration after 9/11 that aimed to take out Al-Qaeda and the Taliban was primarily focused on Afghanistan. With terrorist organizations moving into northern Pakistan, the country was a key actor in the fight against terrorism alongside the U.S.
With millions of troops deployed and the hundreds of millions of dollars invested into the operation, the United States quite literally needs Pakistan as an ally. They need Pakistan to cooperate. Even with the troops backing out and the lessening of drone usage, the area is still unstable – putting both Pakistan and the United States at risk.
Senator John McCain earlier this year said, “The U.S. mission in Afghanistan is immeasurably more difficult without Pakistan’s co-operation in taking on terrorists that operate across the Afghan-Pakistani border at will. Likewise, the strategic imperative for improved relations between the US and Pakistan is clear—for the safety of American troops and the success of their mission in Afghanistan, for the stability of the region and for the national security of both Pakistan and the U.S.”
“I am ready and willing to play any role you want me to play, to address and find solutions to outstanding problems,” Trump said. Perhaps Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called to clear the air before Trump’s first (and Insha’Allah only) term. That includes that his call could have been to remind the president-elect that he better cooperate with Pakistan or there will be consequences. Ladies and gentlemen, power playing at its best.
The Ongoing Tension Between India and Pakistan
In October 2016, Trump told the American public that if he were elected president, India and the United States would be “best friends.” Now that he is elected, the president-elect has gotten the United States right in the middle of a tense, more than half a century old, conflict between the two neighboring countries.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have gotten worse in recent months with several attacks on Indian grounds and several disputes on the border. With the U.S. dependent on Pakistan for its fight against terrorism, India is led to believe that Pakistan is instead purposefully inciting terrorism in the region. At this point, leaders and analysts around the world are carefully watching for any retaliation from either side that may turn this into a full blown war. Now, especially with this phone call, we wonder: Will America under Trump side with Pakistan—it’s strategic ally? Or will it side with India—another recently crucial ally to the U.S.?
Let’s also not forget that all three of these countries are nuclear powers. Which only begs the question, what will Trump do to ease the tension between the two countries especially after the problematic phone call that took place?
The office of Nawaz Sharif also reported that Mr. Trump said that “he would love to come to a fantastic country [Pakistan], fantastic place of fantastic people.” Cut the bullshit, Donald. Tu rehnde. (you cut it out/ leave it)