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Trumping Trump

by Newsweek Pakistan

Brendan Smialowski—AFP

Rather than engaging in a war of words, Pakistan should exercise restraint when responding to the U.S. president

President Trump’s New Year’s present to Pakistan was an all-too-familiar tirade: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

The entire world, including America’s allies in the European Union, has become accustomed to ignoring Trump’s unbuttoned foreign policy nuggets. A part of America is so sick of him it is thinking of impeachment. But in Pakistan the small-state pride or hubris inclines official spokesmen to give Trump as good as Pakistan gets from him, insisting Islamabad played its part honestly in the war against terrorism and, after the latest Trump outburst, it will have no truck with Washington. There is needless bravado in countering possible “deep strikes” by Trump inside Pakistan.

Pakistan should exercise restraint and nobody in the world will take it ill because of Trump’s reputation. Pakistan is a troubled Third World state threatened from borders east and west because of its past strategic mistakes. It should sit back and see if Trump can convince his generals in Afghanistan about losing the supply route through Pakistan and exposing over 3 million Afghan refugees caught in the diplomatic crossfire. Instead Pakistan is showcasing Hafiz Saeed and the internal breakdown of sovereignty he causes with his private courts and soiled tongue.

Pakistani spokesmen specialize in getting Pakistan disliked/feared internationally. If Trump lacks moderation—and is berated for this by the American media—there is no one stopping the minions of the state and TV anchors from putting Pakistan’s economy on the line just for the pleasure of being as bad-mouthed as Trump. Challenging America on the basis of what? Pakistan might have cleaned up its act in recent years, but no one in the world is deceived by angry assertions that its past policies of utilizing proxy warriors have not proven to be a disaster for all stakeholders.

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