- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump spoke. Or, as this readout posted by the Pakistani government says, “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.”
Very good. Terrific.
The conversation quickly shifted into how “amazing” Pakistan is, and how much Donald Trump loves the Pakistani people (“Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people”).
Then Trump figuratively tossed the rulebook of diplomacy out the window and reportedly said, “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.”
As many a foreign policy observer was quick to note on Twitter, neither Pakistan nor India (nor anyone else, to be honest) knows whether to take what Trump says literally, seriously, literally but not seriously, seriously but not literally, or at face value.
Which means that Trump just promised the head of Pakistan, a country warped by the use and abuse of proxy terrorist groups, which is perpetually at odds with its nuclear-armed neighbor, which is deepening defense and economic ties with China, and which has been very recently rocked by cross-border violence, that he will personally take care of whatever Pakistan needs. It is all the more jarring given Trump’s outreach to Indians, and especially given chilly U.S-Pakistan ties and a growing rapprochement between the United States and India. And also given that New Delhi is waiting for Trump to declare Pakistan a terror state.
The conversation concluded with Trump saying he would love to visit “a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.”
Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic.
Photo credit: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images