ISLAMABAD: Heads of state calling to congratulate each other on their victories and successes is the norm. During such cordial conversations pleasantries are exchanged and felicitations showered. However when Islamabad released the transcript of the conversation between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the US President-elect Donal Trump, the world media was in shock. During his campaign Trump has been critical of Muslims going as far as suggesting a ban be imposed and that a Muslim registry be enforced; with such baggage it was hard for most international media outlets to digest the praise for Pakistan, it’s people and for the prime minister. The transcript released by the Pakistani government reads as follows:
“Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to seeing you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.” The following is a snapshot of how major international media outlets reacted to the conversation between the two leaders.
The Washington Post
Lavishing praise on the Pakistanis would be a major turnaround for the president-elect. In 2012, Trump took to his favorite social media platform, Twitter, to denounce Pakistan. Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, is markedly less loved in his country than Trump’s praise would make it seem. He is dogged by allegations of corruption, and the release of the Panama Papers last summer appeared to confirm many Pakistanis’ suspicions.
It’s hard to imagine some Pakistani bureaucrat making up Trumpy lines like “Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people” — which, come to think of it, begs the question of who the least intelligent people are. Also, it’s worth noting that these “most intelligent people” would be blocked from entering the United States under Trump’s “Muslim ban.”
Donald Trump has never met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. But he knows he has a “very good reputation”, and understands he is a “terrific guy”. In fact, Mr Trump feels such a connection with the Pakistani leader, whom he hopes to visit soon, that he feels like he is “talking to a person I have known for a long time”.
The penchant for hyperbole that Trump often exhibited in off-the-cuff campaign speeches came through in the phone call, during which Sharif congratulated him on his election victory and invited him to visit Pakistan.