ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has approached US president-elect Donald Trump through one of his close aides, seeking to develop an ‘understanding’ with the new administration on issues ranging from war on terror to the complex nature of geopolitics in South Asia.
The development came just days after Trump’s stunning victory in the US presidential election shook the entire world, including Pakistan, where policymakers are now discussing options on how to deal with the enigmatic leader given his radical stance on international and regional issues.
Since Trump being the next president of the US is now a reality, Pakistan has decided to follow a ‘proactive’ approach to reach out to the Republican leader.
A senior official with the knowledge of that ‘proactive’ approach told The Express Tribune that Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington Jalil Abbas Jilani wrote a letter to Trump on behalf of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to congratulate him on his victory, as well as his government’s desire to work with his administration.
But, apart from these diplomatic manoeuvres, the government is also relying on ‘unconventional’ approaches, such as reaching out to the Trump administration through his advisers.
One of his advisers that have been approached by Pakistan is Sajid Tarar, a Pakistani-American, who came to the limelight after he founded a movement in the US seeking support of Muslims for Trump in the run up to the race for the White House.
It was a bold and to some extent unpopular move on his part due to the fact that the majority of American Muslims as well as those of Pakistani origins supported Trump’s rival Hilary Clinton.
With Trump’s unexpected victory, Tarar has now emerged as the most sought after person in the US. He was one of the 36 advisers appointed by the Republican candidate for the hard fought election campaign.
Tarar, who originally hails from Mandi Bahuddin, is expected to be given a key role in the Trump Administration.
On Sunday, in an exclusive interview by phone from Florida, Tarar confirmed to The Express Tribune that he was approached by the Government of Pakistan as part of its efforts to reach out to Donald Trump and his administration.
Tarar, who moved to the US more than 30 years back and got nationality in the 90s, said the president-elect would certainly adopt a ‘very tough’ stance against terrorism. “I can tell you that there will be straight talk now onwards on this issue,” said Tarar, who still frequently visits his country of origin and owns a house in Islamabad.
In the changing scenario, he has a word of caution for Pakistan saying the country “needs to put its own house in order because the Trump administration will not tolerate double talk on the issue of terrorism anymore.”
When asked what would be his advice to the new administration, Tarar said being a “proud Pakistani and a proud Muslim American” he would request the new US president to review financial assistance being given to Pakistan.
“For decades, American money did not reach common Pakistanis and unfortunately only benefited the rich elite,” Tarar said bluntly, adding that it should change now.
On foreign policy issues, Tarar said the new US president would revisit the policies being pursued by his predecessors.
For Pakistan, the most immediate concern is that how Trump would look at this part of the world, be it the situation in Afghanistan or tensions with neighbouring India.
Tarar said the new US President would definitely have his own strategy on Afghanistan and issues prevailing in South Asia, although he would not divulge details about the proposed review.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2016.