Trump: opportunities for Pakistan

Pakistani media has rendered Trump as the enemy of Islam and Pakistan. Situation in Pakistan was not in favour of Trump in the past several months. How Pakistan ran out of Trump’s unexpected triumph is a lingering question. Political pundits failed to apprehend Trump’s win in elections. Public opinion was not different from political pundits. They never expected Trump winning the election.

TV channels ran long discussions and broadcasted elections results and in the morning all were stunned. Their analyses fell on the grounds. In the morning, they were not prepared to make fresh, hasty, and unprepared comments and analyses on Trump’s unexpected victory. This was the lacuna of Pakistani media as they are habitual of pre-planned emotional reactions.

However, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wasted no time in sending a message to Trump for his victory in the hope to work together to improve relations under his presidency. The subsequent events after elections show positive trends towards Pakistan-US ties.

There is a brighter side of Trump’s election as President of the US. He has shown rationality towards various issues and gave due importance to Pakistan-US relationship during and after his electoral campaign. The Republican Party platform seems to mark a pleasant departure from usual Washington rhetoric of blaming Pakistan for its own internal as well as regional problems and asking it to do more. The 58-page party platform released during Trump’s election campaign is reflective of an unexpectedly friendly towards Pakistan and recognizes the historic ties the US has had with Islamabad. It also stresses the need to continue this relationship.

The best part of Trump’s apparent policy towards South Asia is his willingness of mediation for Kashmir dispute. He has publically expressed his willingness on two occasions; firstly, in an interview to “Hindustan Times”, Trump said that, he would be willing to play a mediatory role in addressing the “very, very hot tinderbox” of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Secondly, during the telephone conversation with Prime Minister of Pakistan he reaffirmed his willingness to mediate the Kashmir dispute. It was longstanding desire of Pakistani establishment to involve the US or any other major power of the world into mediation of Kashmir dispute, which was rejected repeatedly by the US. Therefore, Trump’s stay in White House as President represents one of the most important opportunities for the positive developments over Kashmir dispute.

Being a businessman he will try to increase economic relationship with the world and with South Asian countries. Trump’s business mindset is likely to support Chinese regional and extra-regional connectivity for business and trade. Since 2009, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of the US to Pakistan was decreasing gradually, which also negatively affected various sectors of Pakistani economy. However, it seems that during the Trump administration, Pakistan will regain FDI of the US in different sectors, which will help strengthening Pakistan’s economy.

Moreover, Pakistan has direct relevance in resolving the Afghan problem, which is a key to Trump’s apparent overseas defence policies. Pakistan’s importance will likely to increase during Trump’s presidency in South Asia due to Afghan reconciliation process. Trump’s policy of strong American economy cannot be materialized effectively until and unless it reduces defence commitments in the overseas. He has categorically rejected the possibility of military invasions during this tenure. He has criticised his predecessors over military invasions, which hampered American economy. In this backdrop, it seems that he will likely to decrease military forces from Afghanistan. Therefore, he would like to see resumption of Quad lateral Peace Talks (US, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan) or other such forums in order to see reconciliation in Afghanistan during his tenure.

To conclude, opportunities for Pakistan are emerging from the White House after January 20, despite various challenges which have been highlighted by the media since the election of Donald Trump. Now there will be a testing time for the government of Pakistan that how it effectively exploit those opportunities in its favour.

 

The Article appeared in Daily Times, January 16, 2017.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the writer and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy

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About the Author

Mr. Khurram Abbas is Assistant Research Officer (ARO) at Islamabad Policy Research Institute. He holds MPhil degree in International Relations from National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad. He is doing his PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies (PCS) from Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS), NUST, Islamabad and his thesis is “Role of Social Media in Radicalization Process: Analysis of Muslim World with Particular Reference to Pakistan". His area of interest includes, Perception Management, Role of Social Media, De-Radicalization Strategies, Counter Violent Extremism, Religious Extremism in South Asian region with particular emphasis on India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Abbas regularly participates in National and International Conferences. He undertakes extensive research and regularly contributes in academic research journals and national/international dailies. Email: khurram306pcips@nipcons.nust.edu.pk

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