'Trump gave PM Imran triple A treatment'

Updated July 28, 2019

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Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari shaking US President Donald Trump's hand. — Photo courtesy Sayed Z Bukhari Twitter account
Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari shaking US President Donald Trump's hand. — Photo courtesy Sayed Z Bukhari Twitter account

Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, who accompanied Prime Minister Imran Khan on his trip to the United States last week, said there was no doubt that the trip was a successful one.

Speaking as a guest on a Hum News talk show, Bukhari spoke of the "special treatment" meted out to the premier by US President Donald Trump.

"Trump said that he metes out six different levels of treatment to people, ranging from 'A' to 'F' and told PM Imran he had given him the AAA treatment. In fact he said 'triple A plus three'. Those were his exact words," said Bukhari.

"Both are candid, straight shooters, not cut from the typical political cloth so that itself leads to a natural synergy, a natural relationship," he added.

He also said that the Twitter tirade between the two leaders which took place in the recent past did not seem to be a relevant factor as it seemed to have been written off by Trump in the way he welcomed the prime minister.

"And it could be seen in the way he personally gave us a tour of the White House, including the private living quarters. The administration staff told me that never before had Trump himself given the tour to any world leader."

He said Trump personally showed the prime minister around the living quarters which also included a preserved area which had formed the living quarters of President Abraham Lincoln.

"I think the meeting was scheduled for three hours. And it turned out to be a four-and-a-half long engagement as he took personal interest in it."

Take a look: PM thanks Trump for hospitality, says Pakistan 'will do everything' to facilitate Afghan peace

When asked what major factors he could identify which lend credence to the fact that the tour was a successful one, Bukhari replied: "The foremost factor was the one-on-one meeting between the two as it was crucial for taking relations forward when it comes to relationship building, trade, confidence building. And this was very necessary because when visits are made to other countries, it is important to project the strides made in relations with the US."

"The second thing was the way overseas Pakistanis welcomed the prime minister and the near fanatacism with which they did so [...] the Capital One Arena was full to the brim, with women and children protesting on Twitter that they have come a long way and are not being allowed inside.

"So there were 3000-5000 people outside alone."

He acknowledged that he had been nervous about the whole event and over the potential embarrassment of the possibility that some seats would be left empty and how the opposition would drum up negative propaganda as a result.

Bukhari said Americans were taken aback by the scale of the response by people and "could not believe that this was a prime minister because he seemed no less than a celebrity or a rockstar".

He said that Trump, too, was impressed "because he also likes someone who is a crowd-puller".

Also read: Relations with Pakistan much better today than before, says President Trump in meeting with PM Imran

He remarked that overseas Pakistanis previously saw a deterrence in investing and sending remittances but want to get back to doing so.

"We are talking to State Bank. We have the challenge of dealing with restrictions that have been there for years, besides changing the mindset [...] it's a double edged sword because we don't want to hurt local investors but also want to encourage foreign investments. So we are looking for ways to balance that."

He said that the launching and marketing of Pakistan Banao certificate was not done how it should have been but "those were the early days of the government and we didn't make use of the media like we should have owing to our inexperience."

He also reminded the show hosts that overseas Pakistanis will now see better voting rights. "They will no longer need a passport and the Nicop (national identity cards for overseas Pakistanis) both. Besides this, mechanisms are being created for dual-nationals to contest elections," he said.

"Imran Khan sahib himself has taken up this issue," he reiterated.

When asked for the reason behind the prime minister's choice of attire for the visit, Bukhari said that there was no specific reason behind the choice and the shalwar kameez is Pakistan's traditional, formal wear. "So there is no need to be surprised by it [...] The prime minister said, 'Why should I change it when this is our formal attire.'"

Explore: PTI's Zulfi Bukhari says Imran Khan didn't don designer wear on his US trip, except it looks like he did

"As far as (not opting for) the sherwani is concerned, Khan sahib is of the view that the common man does not go to work wearing the sherwani and he is a representative of the common man."

Referring to speculation on which designer the prime minister frequents for his wardrobe maintenance, he said that the first lady was his only designer and simply makes clever use of what the prime minister already has to mix and match outfits and only visits regular tailors.