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November 11, 2016

Trump victory may not harm Pak-US ties: US experts

Islamabad

 
November 11, 2016

Victory of Donald Trump in US elections may not immediately harm Pakistan-America relations but the new President is expected to be tough on issues like terrorism and detained CIA spy Shakil Afridi which could strain already volatile bilateral ties, experts in US believe.

Although Pakistani Ambassador to United States Jalil Abbas Jilani has already briefed Trump’s foreign policy team, no one still know what exactly the policy of President-elect on Pakistan is.

Talking to The News, one of Pakistan experts in US think tank said Trump’s policy towards the country will be more transactional. “It's unclear how he'll craft his policy toward Pakistan. He said relatively little about it on the campaign trail. I imagine much of what we'll see won't be much different from how it's been in recent months-a focus on pursuing the core US interest of stability through limited yet focused counter-terrorism cooperation,” Michael Kugelman, a senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center told The News.

Kugelman who is responsible for research, programming, and publications on Pakistan and South at the Centre said Trump's Pakistan policy will be “unabashedly transactional, all aspects of policy will be meant to serve and advance US interests.”

“This could mean more conditions on aid and an increasing unwillingness to pursue broader avenues of cooperation outside of security,” he added.  When asked about the future of relations, Kugelman said US-Pakistan ties were headed toward a downgrade no matter who won the election.

 “So the basic parameters of the relationship won't change. Still, some of Trump's specific positions, such as his demand for the release of Shakil Afridi, could introduce new tensions into an already volatile relationship,” Kugelman added.

Another top US expert on Pakistan, Shuja Shah Nawaz does not see a hard shift in policy toward Pakistan under Trump. “But a lot depends on what Pakistan does on its own against internal and external violence and terrorism,” said Nawaz who is Founding Director of Atlantic Council's South Asia Center and currently a distinguished fellow.

“We have to wait to see if Trump continues the disengagement from Afghanistan and relations with Nato. Pakistan did not feature in the campaign. It was only mentioned once in the Democratic Party platform as an adjunct to the Afghan withdrawal,” Nawaz said. He said the onus remains on Pakistan to right its own path on domestic polity and economy and regional relations.

“The US-India relation will affect its actions no doubt. But it must strike out on its own” said Nawaz who was born in Pakistan.

Talking to The News in a previous interview, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani had hoped the ties between the two countries will remain stable in the event of Donald Trump’s victory.

“In America, foreign policies are made by team of experts with deep knowledge of region. I have briefed the Republican team about the issues of mutual interest and we hope our ties will be further improved in future,” he said.

Jilani said Pakistan is an important country of South Asia which had played vital part in improving US role in the region. He noted that four Republican Senators have recently visited Pakistan.

Pakistan-born head of Muslims for Trump organisation Sajid Tarar hoped that the relations will be improved under the Republican President. “Pakistan is important country of the region and no US administration can ignore it,” he said. He said the Muslim countries are biggest victims of terrorism and action against terrorism by President-elect will ensure better future for these countries including Pakistan.