Will President Trump be good or bad for Pakistan?

Views range from 'nobody knows' to 'expect muscle flexing'.
Published November 9, 2016

Not one to mince words, in 2012, an angry Trump had tweeted: "When will Pakistan apologise to us for providing safe sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden for 6 years?! Some 'ally'."

The candidate also seems to have a soft spot for India. Just last month, he attended an elaborate charity event hosted by Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) and promised that India and the US would be “best friends” if he were president.

So, what would a Trump presidency mean for Pakistan?

Here's what some experts and commentators think.

Space for hawks?

It will depend on how foreign policy experts shape his regional agenda. If he gives space to hawks, it is possible Pakistan may face repercussions over its association with militant groups. On the flipside, he has not spoken about Pakistan that much so there is a chance his Middle East agenda takes up most of his policy space and we end up getting ignored.

— Umair Javed
Umair Javed is a freelance columnist.

Gift to jihadists

"On a serious note: Trump's victory will be an enormous gift to a failing jihadist movement, that will have now have a renewed rallying cry. If jihadi ideology has a source of sustenance, it is the image of the US as the evil anti-Muslim crusader. They will milk Trump's win dry."

— Ammar Rashid via Twitter
Ammar Rashid is a researcher, teacher, political worker at AWP and musician.

No clear plan for Pakistan

Nobody knows how Trump will approach the complexity of the issues that come with America's Pakistan policy. There is Afghanistan, there is the stability of a nuclear-armed country, there are regional complexities with India, China and Iran vested in some way or the other. For a man with a simple mind, there is no telling how he will balance all these out to draw a path forward for himself on Pakistan.

— Khurram Hussain
Khurram Hussain is a part of Dawn's staff.

The devil you know

"For those who think Clinton might be a hawk regarding Pakistan, just remember it's much preferable dealing with challenging policy than hate/bigotry"

— Babar Sattar, via Twitter
Babar Sattar is a lawyer.

Losing patience

The US-Pakistan relationship was destined to be downgraded regardless of who won the election. But with Trump, the relationship could face some very trying times. Trump will have no patience for Pakistan's approach to terror. He is unlikely to support aid without conditions. At best, we could see a lot of tough love from Trump. At worst, we could see an increasingly tense relationship. The US-Pakistan relationship won't collapse under Trump, but it could face unprecedented challenges.

— Michael Kugelman
Michael Kugelman is a senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington, DC.

More of the same for Pakistan

A Trump presidency will certainly be disconcerting because of its potential unpredictability - but Pakistani policy makers will face the same pro-India slant, and the same surplus of expectations from the Pakistani military that have been the staple of US policy since 1992. A Trump presidency will not change the fundamentals of the dysfunctional Pakistan-US relationship.

— Mosharraf Zaidi
Mosharraf Zaidi is part of the Alif Ailaan campaign for education.

Muscle flexing ahead?

We have no idea how a Trump presidency would affect Pakistan, because he has not really talked about policy during this election. We aren't really sure who his team is going to be. Reports suggest Newt Gingrich is his top pick for Secretary of State. Gingrich did bring up Pakistan on stage at the June Republican Convention. He paraphrased and decontextualised a PEW study to say that 16 million Pakistanis support ISIS. He thought that was an important thing to mention. I guess that's a precursor to the kind of muscle flexing we might see if Gingrich becomes Secretary of State.

— Sahar Habib Ghazi
Sahar Habib Ghazi is the managing editor at 'Global Voices'.

Back home

"Trump win good for Pakistan. Rich, educated Pakistanis will come back to Pakistan"

— Farrukh Saleem via Twitter
Farrukh Saleem is a columnist who writes for 'The News'.

Hoping for peace

"I hope he [Donald Trump] will focus keenly to bring peace and stability around the world and demonstrate deliberate leadership in resolving the conflicts in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. We must trust and work together to crush terrorism and eliminate extremism from a position of strength. United States should not quit from Afghanistan; it's combat troop draw-down should be effect-related and not time-related."

— Pervez Musharraf via Facebook
Pervez Musharraf is a former president of Pakistan and the founder of All Pakistan Muslim League.

Header photo: AP/File