Islamabad: US President-elect Donald Trump, who vowed to ban Muslims from the US , purportedly told beleaguered Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday that he’s a “terrific guy”, ” has a very good reputation ” and added that he is “ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play” to address outstanding problems.
That is, Trump said this to Sharif according to a Pakistan government press release of a phone conversation between the two, after Sharif called the US President-elect to congratulate him.
In his country, Trump faced a tremendous backlash from liberals for promising during his Presidential campaign that he would ban all Muslims from entering the US. In his Muslim-majority country, And in his country, Sharif is under investigation for funnelling money abroad, after his and his family members’ names were mentioned in the Panama Papers.
In the meanwhile, the US real estate magnate pressed on with his love for hyperbole and vague generalizations, and supposedly also told Sharif “it will be an honor” and that he will “personally” play any role to “find solutions to the outstanding problems” – problems that Trump didn’t specify.
Trump also purportedly told Sharif that he feels like he’s “talking to a person I have known for long” and that Pakistanis “are one of the most intelligent people.” He apparently urged Sharif to “feel free” to call him at “any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.”
Further, “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,” the press release by Pakistan’s Press Information Department said.
“Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people”, said Trump according to the Pakistan government press release.
What this love-fest between the two leaders means for Pakistan is unclear at the present time, as Trump hasn’t even outlined a South Asia plan.
US-Pakistan ties have been frosty lately, as Washington is unhappy with what it sees as Islamabad’s inaction against homegrown terror like the Haqqani network, Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed. Islamabad has been terribly unhappy over what it sees a growing closeness between the US and India, especially after the two signed a deal in August to use each other’s military bases for repair and resupply. Trump also has business ties in India, which has stoked concerns in Pakistan that under his presidency the US may accelerate its shift towards New Delhi, Reuters said.
In May this year, the US House of Representatives voted 277 to increase restrictions on military aid for Pakistan. The House said it was frustrated over what it called Islamabad’s failure to crack down on the Haqqani network, Reuters reported. The House also passed a $602 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which will block $450 million in aid to Islamabad unless it does more to fight the militant group, which lawmakers see as a major threat to US forces in Afghanistan, the news agency added.
On October 7, the US also released a travel advisory in which the Department of State warned US citizens against all non-essential travel to Pakistan. Recently, concerned that US investment in Pakistan may be hit, Islamabad raised the issue of the ‘travel warning’ advisory against it with Washington, a US State Department spokesman said yesterday.
“I think, without getting into specifics – and I’ve said this before – Pakistani leaders know all too well the threats of extremism and terrorism inside their own borders because they’ve lost too many soldiers, they’ve lost too many citizens. So of course, we continue to have conversations with them about the extremist threat that resides inside of their own borders,” Kirby said yesterday.
Close to a 1,000 people have been killed in terror-related violence in Pakistan this year, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal. Just last month, at least 60 people were killed and more than 190 people were injured in a terror attack at a police training college in Quetta. And in August, a bomb blast outside a hospital in Quetta killed at least 70 people