A blessing in disguise for Pakistan?

Published: November 10, 2016
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Experts say US may be more ‘transparent’ in its dealings with Islamabad under Donald Trump. PHOTO: AFP

Experts say US may be more ‘transparent’ in its dealings with Islamabad under Donald Trump. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Here you have it! As unreal as it sounds, Donald J Trump is the next president of the United States of America.

While the world still reels from quite possibly the most shocking election result in US history, the key concern for Pakistan is what Trump’s unexpected victory means for the country.

There are no easy answers. The reason is that Trump has dropped no clear hint on his possible foreign policy, let alone on Pakistan, during the bruising election campaign.

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Second, the element of unpredictability that the president-elect brings with him has cut out the work of Pakistani policymakers to come up with a prudent strategy.

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wasted no time in sending a felicitation message to Trump for his victory in the hope that the two countries would work together to improve their relations under his presidency.

But his felicitation message aside, strategic and foreign policy experts have a word of caution for the government. At the same time, however, they see an opportunity for Pakistan in this changing scenario.

“Pakistan will have to wait and see,” said defence analyst Lt-Gen (retd) Talat Masood, who like the rest of the world did not expect Trump to win.  Although there will be no ‘fundamental’ change in the US policy towards Pakistan, the Trump administration may be more assertive, he said. “He [Trump] will be more demanding….he may put more pressure on Pakistan when it comes to the war on terror.”

Historically, Pakistan-US relations have been security driven. Their current engagement is also primarily linked to the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan. Despite being allies, their cooperation has often been marred by misgivings and trust deficit.

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The main stumbling block over the years has been the concern in the US administration that Pakistan was not doing enough to deal with certain militant groups.

Islamabad, however, has its own complaints against Washington. The main concern is that there is lack of acknowledgement of its sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.

Of late Pakistan is also increasingly upset over the United States indifferent approach to its ‘strategic grievances’ in the region especially vis-à-vis India.

“That situation may change now since Trump will not operate under such ambiguity,” commented Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed, who teaches international relations at the Quid-e-Azam University. The US, under Trump, will follow more ‘transparent approach’ towards Pakistan. This means, according to Dr Ishtiaq, there will be no more ‘gray areas’ in the US dealings with Pakistan.

Contrary to the prevailing perception, for Dr Ishtiaq the victory of Trump may not be a bad thing for Pakistan. “In fact it’s a blessing in disguise,” he added explaining that the Trump administration would do ‘straight talk and expect the same from Pakistan.’

Interaction with senior foreign office and security officials suggested that Islamabad may not be that pessimistic about the Trump’s victory.

“I look at it a differently. There may be surprises but they could be positive ones,” a senior official in the Foreign Office remarked when asked to comment on the possible fallout of Trump’s victory on Pak-US ties.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that Trump’s administration may be less intrusive given his priority areas would be domestic issues.

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While what policy Trump would have ultimately on Pakistan and the region unfolds in a due course, there is consensus among the government officials, foreign policymakers and independent experts that ‘divorce’ is not an option for either country.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • abreez
    Nov 10, 2016 - 9:14AM

    I still cannot believe my eyes and ears when I’m looking and hearing news of Trump’s victory. This is as unbelievable as the news of Modi’s victory but India is our arch rival and if India will waste its five years it will be a good thing for Pakistan. America is world’s biggest economy and if America will waste its four years then impact on world is unthinkable. American people did a harmful thing not only with their selves but with the people of the world also.Recommend

  • Uncle Tom
    Nov 10, 2016 - 9:50AM

    “There are no easy answers. The reason is that Trump has dropped no clear hint on his possible foreign policy, let alone on Pakistan, during the bruising election campaign.”

    That’s because he didn’t expect to win the election…Recommend

  • Hakim Afghani
    Nov 10, 2016 - 10:54AM

    Ohh and i forgot to add: He will be putting sanctions on Pakistan for sure to cripple Pakistani economy first and I think that will be his first move! Have a good day folks and be ready for this after July 2017Recommend

  • scotchpak
    Nov 10, 2016 - 11:48AM

    shock and awe 2- Now they can celebrate 9/11 and 11/9Recommend

  • illpopo
    Nov 10, 2016 - 11:48AM

    Come on, being American president is going through a robotic transformation process no matter however you are and whatever your personal agenda might be. America has always been destructive and worst enemy of Muslim world and it will remain!! Recommend

  • vinsin
    Nov 10, 2016 - 2:43PM

    @abreez:
    Arabs Pagans also never able to digest victory of Muslims and so do non-Muslims on Jinnah for partition. What happened to TNT and why worried about USA?Recommend

  • Oommen
    Nov 10, 2016 - 3:25PM

    CPEC is the biggest “thing” happened to Pakistan after independence. The strategic location combined with bravery and intellectual capacity makes Pakistan the undisputed leader of asiaRecommend

  • auginpk
    Nov 10, 2016 - 6:07PM

    If drones are stopped then Trump will be blessing for Pakistan.

    In India lots of issues were enforced by western government and people. It is immaterial whether India accepts that or not.

    He will force various establishments of Pakistan to mend its ways. Which will be beneficial for people of Pakistan.

    Though Americans are in general businessmen but Mr.Trump is through and through businessman. Therefore he may not have time for political and diplomatic necessities.Recommend

  • Prada
    Nov 11, 2016 - 6:23AM

    All one has to do is read his tweets about Pakistan. Recommend

  • Humza
    Nov 11, 2016 - 7:36AM

    @Hakim Afghani: By all means, you Indians can wish for all you want but in a globalized world, there is much more at stake. India will be given a warning now by Trump about its use of Afghanistan as a base for cross border mischief against Pakistan and he will think twice about outsourcing any IT jobs to India too. Just wait and see ! Many Pakistanis welcome a Trump and Republican presidency!Recommend

  • Power Engineer
    Nov 11, 2016 - 10:48PM

    As long a Trump stops American tax payers money to dubious, cheat, terrorists in Pakistan the 4 years of Trumps will be worth everyday.Recommend

  • auginpk
    Nov 12, 2016 - 7:32AM

    @Humza:

    Dear

    Just wait and watch.Recommend

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