LAHORE: Though the Republican Party nominee for the Oval Office, Donald Trump, is considered a great threat to the world, in terms of Pakistan’s concerns, no major policy shift is being expected as the United States has a strong institutional system, which cannot be influenced easily.
This was the outcome of a panel discussion at the festival of ideas, ‘A World of Tomorrow’, held on Sunday. The festival was organised by the Beaconhouse School System.
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The Express Tribune Editor Fahd Husain, being moderator of a session on ‘As the World Holds its Breath: The Oval Office and Global Security’, set the tone of the session by highlighting the latest polls indicating the race for the Oval Office has further tightened up, though the Democratic Party nominee for President Hillary Clinton still has some lead.
“Probably, it is happening for the first time in the US history that smooth transition of power is under threat as Trump had preemptively challenged the results of upcoming November 8 presidential elections, claiming the entire system was rigged.” He highlighted the findings of a recent research poll, according to which, 85% Europeans believed that Donald Trump would have negative impact on the world. All these developments and controversies were strange and interesting as they were going to impact not only the Americans but the entire world.
Former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri said definitely Pakistan had uncertain times ahead, if not dangerous, but it should be kept in mind that only a person (president) could not impact much in the presence of a strong institutional system in the United States. He underlined that he did not see a major change in America’s policy towards Pakistan as the US Congress was deeply divided with dozens of national security advisers who had a great say in decision making.
He, however, indicated concerns related to Pakistan-US bilateral relations and Pakistan-India-Afghanistan relations with the change of government in America. He underscored both Pakistan and India were nuclear states so war was not an option for either of the states.
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Eminent writer and analyst Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi said the victory of Trump in the US elections would be a matter of great concern for the people of America rather than Pakistan because of his ambiguous position on the US national security. Another challenge for the US would be that to what extent the institutional checks and balances could be effectively dealt with the strange ideas of Trump. On the other hand, if Hillary Clinton is elected, there would be continuity in policies and overall objective would remain the same, he maintained.
Speaking about the US policy in Asia, he said, the shift towards the Asia Pacific would follow and the US would build partnership with countries in the region, especially countries around China. However, this effort would be to contain China, not necessarily to exclude China, and the same would apply to Pakistan. The US obviously lost interest in Pakistan over a period of time but this was not going to abandon relations with Pakistan but to increase pressure to deal with issues related to terrorism. However, India would remain more important than Pakistan as it was partner with the US in the region as a big market and stabilising force, he added.
Noted journalists and writer Ahmed Rashid said right now Pakistan was in a real crisis-like situation as it did not know what Trump’s foreign policy would be. “We did not know who would be the secretary of the state for him, although we knew a couple of candidates for Clinton,” he said. But the real issue was the post-election question whether Trump would accept the election results if Hillary won. Even he lost, would he launch mass campaign against Hillary as he had already said.
Speaking about the institutional system, Rashid said, these institutes had been whittled down. Congress had lost power that paralysed Obama administration to do reforms that it planned. On the email fiasco a lot of people from FBI and CIA were with Trump so these institutions were for the first time in bad shape.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2016.