BY contacting US President-elect Donald Trump, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif demonstrated tremendous maturity of leadership. His was not only a major initiative, but a yeomen service to Pakistan, for he at least secured a place of dignity and honour for his country, which really is a rare feat.
For quite a long time, months before the polls in America, Pakistan and many other Muslim States were in grip of apprehensions because of the harsh and somewhat intriguing utterances from the Republic nominee for the White House race.
The fears multiplied manifold in size and dimensions after results on the evening of November 8, finally saw Hillary Clinton losing by a big margin. The Presidency of United States, the most powerful office on world stage, went to Trump. Ideas and perceptions began to change, but the swing in perceptions, remained uneducated, based on assumptions rather than on realities which had emerged with the end of the year and a half campaign last month.
The Pakistanis, on their homeland looked less worried because of indirect effect on them from the policies likely to be introduced by the new US President for his global objectives, but their brethren in America, naturalized citizens after being there for years and decades, and involved in useful vocations, seemed in greater anguish.
That a gloomy scenario had appeared with the Republican defeating their arch rivals after eight long years, was not un-natural. They knew that Trump had been speaking against immigrants, and had even threatened to throw them off the mainland – a land which is like a continent and, where immigrants had contributed immensely for its progress and prosperity. America, after all, is a nation of immigrants. All kinds of them were there—Spaniards, Germans, Italians, South and Central Americans, Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis.
The heat generated by the campaign and right-rope walking it saw for Trump and Hillary, balance, though edgy, seemed in favour of former Secretary of State, but the Nov 8 results turned out to be stunning and shocked the world.
Indians seems less, or perhaps least worried, for they were lured by Trumps as campaign neared its end. India and Indians in America were showered praises. That became scary for the Pakistani Americans, who thought that since terrorism, were generally linked to Islam, the incoming Democrats, will be severe on Muslims, quite a handsome number of them were from Pakistan. Their concern for their future was not without reason.
But a telephone call from Nawaz Sharif to Trump gave birth to a new hope and promise for Pakistan, and Pakistanis in America. Details released later by the prime minister’s office in Islamabad, indeed was a welcome one. Nawaz had not only broken the ice, but had earned handsome rewards for his country and its citizens.
He not only congratulated the President-elect on his astounding victory, but was able to secure assurances for his countrymen, and even invited him to visit Pakistan. Trump’s response was exhilarating. He said he loved Pakistan and Pakistanis and will be too happy to visit Pakistan. Nawaz showed statesmanship.
To contact the new US President, knowing that he was hostile to immigrants and Muslims, and had according to New York Times, had ordered to tighten visa formalities for Pakistan, was not only marvelous, it, indeed, was courageous, and paid instant dividend.
The Pakistani prime minister had appeared as Statesman, from being a mere politician, and leader of a country, almost at war with its neighbouring India, and facing hostility from Afghanistan on the western borders. Trump’s remarks, as reported in the media, turned gloom into cheers, within Pakistan, and within America for Nawaz’s countrymen. They must have heaved a sigh of relief.
Imagine a hostile American administration, could well have spelled disaster for Islamabad. Europe too would have fallen suit. France may have been a sole exception, for Paris had always been very independent in its decisions, and pursued policies boldly, refusing to toe the American line in international affairs.
That danger seems to have disappeared, at least for the time being. It remains to be seen as to what kind of policies will emerge after Trump takes oath of office on 20th January 2017. There, luckily, has been a voice of sanity, advising Trump to change his attitude on issues that may appear perilous for United States. But such voices are few and far, and muted too. Nevertheless, the world has learnt to live on hopes, and that hope should continue to guide us in future also. That is the lesson of history, and history has always been a tremendous guide.