Which US presidential candidate will be good for Pakistan?

No matter who comes to power in the United States, Pakistan has to fend for itself.

Shajeel Zaidi January 05, 2016
While the US presidential nomination circus is going on in full swing, people back in Pakistan ought to wonder who the best man or woman would be for Pakistan. Let us be very honest, Pakistan does not figure very prominently on the radar of most of these presidential candidates. However, the fate of these presidential elections is very important to Pakistan.

The amount of aid we receive to the approval of our ever growing nuclear program and the continuous supply of and upgrades to our military hardware depends very much on the man or woman at the oval office.

On the Republican side, there are a total of 12 candidates, half of whom know nothing about Pakistan. The Democratic side is paltry, made up of only three candidates. While discourse in Pakistan is saturated with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, many of us have not really considered the efficacy of other candidates.

I’m here to rectify that. Let’s explore which candidates would work in Pakistan’s favour.

Photo: Reuters

I believe that the best choice for us would be Senator Marco Rubio, from the Republican side. Hear me out before you start shaking your head.

I know that Rubio hasn’t really won the hearts of Pakistanis by saying that he would like to have a beer with with Malala Yousafzai when he was asked which political figure he would like to informally meet over a drink. But the fact is that he is the only one who has visited Pakistan and Afghanistan, besides Hillary Clinton, during his time as senator. He met with Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who was the Chief of Army Staff at the time. This indicates that he is more familiar with the political climate of the country than his counterparts. In addition to that, he is one of the few American politicians who can pronounce ‘Pakistan’ right!

Besides Rubio, there are three other candidates that could prove useful to Pakistan.

Photo: Reuters

John Ellis Bush (Jeb Bush), the 43rd Governor of Florida, is also one of the better choices. He is touted as the smarter of the Bush brothers, which is honestly not much of a compliment to the man. Jeb once opined that the US should provide support, such as trade concessions, rather than give aid to countries like Pakistan because giving aid “never wins friends”. This illustrates that he would be a shrewd leader and would make decisions that would benefit in the long term.

Photo: AP

Jim Gilmore, the 68th Governor of Virginia, is also considerably knowledgeable about Pakistan, and thus would be quite a decent choice.

Photo: Reuters

Senator Rick Santorum could also be favourable for us. He once censured Texas Governor Rick Perry for being too hostile towards Pakistan, saying that “allies work through their problems”.

While there are candidates who could be good for Pakistan’s future, there are some who could prove quite hazardous for us.

Photo: Reuters

Let’s hope that Ted Cruz never sees a day in office. The Republican first time senator, is a particularly strong candidate, but he is belligerent when it comes to dealing with issues and non-Americans. He will not be gentle with Pakistan. Another hardliner is Rand Paul. The Kentucky Republican lawmaker said last year that all aid to Pakistan should be cut off because it persecutes Christians and women, giving the examples of Asia Bibi and Malala Yousafzai.

Photo: Reuters

The Republican front runner so far is of course the grandiloquent Donald J Trump. His views about Pakistan, as expected, are not very positive. Donald Trump is quoted to have said that Pakistan is not a real friend and believes that the US should use India as a checkmate to Pakistan.

Photo: Reuters

Chris Christie, the 55th Governor of New Jersey, one of the bigger boned of the Republican contestants, is unfamiliar with Pakistan beyond the usual news headlines, yet his website credits him with obtaining an indictment against the kidnapper of Daniel Pearl, disregarding the fact that the trial took place in Pakistan.

Ben Carson, the only African American in the whole race, and Carly Fiorina, the only woman on the Republican side, have too sparse a knowledge of Pakistan to merit a real mention. John Kasich, the 69th Governor of Ohio, and Mike Huckabee, the 44th Governor of Arkansas, too, can be similarly dismissed, as can Martin O’ Malley, the 61st Governor of Maryland, a Democratic presidential candidate.

Bernie Sanders.Photo: Reuters

There are two other democratic candidates. Senator Bernie Sanders may seem like a pacifist liberal of yore, but he would not be in any hurry to end Barack Obama’s drone program in Waziristan if elected.

Photo: Reuters

The erstwhile Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton knows Pakistan as well as any non-Pakistani can expect to.

Despite this, I believe that Hillary Clinton is very cynical about Pakistan. She understands Pakistan, sympathises with the people, yet is very doubtful of the military regime. She essentially distrusts the Pakistani establishment. Thus, her policy towards Pakistan would be more aggressive than Obama’s, notwithstanding her genuine concern for the stability and prosperity of Pakistan.

All said and done, no matter who comes to power in the United States, Pakistan has to fend for itself. Not one of these potential presidents would be friends of or partial towards Pakistan, they would only be interested partners whom Pakistan has to evaluate and deal with in its own best interest. However, it would be much easier to deal with the right man or woman.
Shajeel Zaidi The writer works in alternative financing firm on Wall Street, and has an interest in world politics and history. He tweets @shajboi (https://twitter.com/shajboi)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Pakistani | 8 years ago | Reply Bernie is the best undoubtedly. Rubio is not at all good for Pakistan, he very recently made a statement against us. Out of the remaining Republican candidates, Ted Cruz is the best. In 2015, he was asked what do you think about obama's policy towards Pakistan and his answer was, (unlike his thoughts on Syria and Iraq, which he feels need to be carpet bombed), that he felt obama was handling Pakistan well. When the APS attack happened he strongly condemned it. However he wants to carpet bomb the middle east, has introduced legislation in the Senate to ban all refugees particularly Muslim and is very pro-Israel. Trump is scary, he said, 'India is the check to Pakistan' and would snatch all of our nukes somehow, but is the only candidate who says will be neutral when it comes to Palestine and Israel and wants a peace agreement. Hillary would continue Obama's policy including drones.
Iqra | 8 years ago | Reply The fact that they all are presidential candidates of the US: None.
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