"You Are a Terrific Guy": Trump to Nawaz Sharif
NEW DELHI: United States President-elect Donald Trump who is in the process of getting his team together and firming policy initiatives created a ripple with his telephone conversation with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saying, “ You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon.”
The mainline American media has taken note of what is being described as an early shift in policy, given the fact that Trump had not hesitated to denounce Pakistan in the past. In fact in an early reference in 2010 Trump had tweeted, “"Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend. We've given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get? Betrayal and disrespect - and much worse. #TimeToGetTough"
This stated position, along with Trump’s anti- Muslim propaganda through the run up to the Presidential elections had effectively placed him in the critics box insofar as Pakistan was concerned. However, when Sharif called to felicitate him on Wednesday he found an effusive Trump on the other side. So much so that the Pakistan Press Information Bureau was encouraged to put out a ‘readout’ of the conversation between the two leaders that has the American media going all over the place in trying to analyse what all are agreed on is a ‘shift’, and Twitter visibly excited with the news.
As per the Pakistan readout: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.
On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.
Trump’s office has not responded to newspapers like the Washington Post that wanted a response. And as former diplomats said, “give Trump’s record, we need to wait and see what exact policy he does end up with.” However, it is clear that the President-elect would not have responded to Sharif’s telephone call without the necessary groundwork during this transition phase, and the almost exuberant response does indicate that he might not be willing to knock the old Washington-Islamabad relationship.
More recently during his campaign, Trump spoke of the conflict between India and Pakistan as a “hot tinder box” that he would like to resolve, if both agreed for him to do so. In this again there was a recognition of the conflict, a position that Pakistan has always encouraged Washington to take even as New Delhi has been resistant, insisting instead on a de-hyphenated approach by the US.
Trump has been enthusiastically supported by sections of the Indian diaspora, particularly the Republican Hindu Coalition that has been keen to promote a relationship with the President-elect through the religious paradigm. Modelling itself after the Republican Jewish Coalition, this organisation had hosted a big event for Trump with the founding chairman of RHC Shalabh Kumar being amongst his largest donors.
Interestingly, the RHC states on its website, “Modeled after the highly successful Republican Jewish Coalition, the Republican Hindu Coalition (“RHC”) was founded in 2015 to be the unique bridge between the Hindu-American community and Republican policymakers and leaders. Hindu Americans in the United States come from many countries, principally India but also include Hindus from Nepal, Sri Lankan, Caribbean, Indonesia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Australia, Africa and various parts of Europe. Additionally Hindus include all faiths like Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists that were born in India.”