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This brief draws substantially from an IPS roundtable with the same title on February 27, 2017.

T he election of Donald Trump as the


president of the United States of America
has kicked off a period of uncertainty,
confusion and fear, both internally in the US as
well as globally. This election is unique and
despite a four-year tenure of chaos and tensions,
action and reaction as well as confusion. Trump is
an ideology that has reflected, as well as sparked a
wave of far-right movements, not only in the US
but across the world including Europe and
extraordinary and will have long lasting effects on Australia. It signifies the beginning of the downfall
Americas history and politics. It has proved that of Western civilisation and the values it upheld and
US media, think tanks and policy makers could not preached to the world.
gauge the mass resentment cooking in American
society, which Trump focussed on and exploited One certainty is that Americas policies would
very well to win the elections. He has successfully change, both domestically and globally, and
proved that manipulating the public sentiment is Pakistan should be ready for this change. On the
key to defeat a very strong establishment. The
most crucial question of the time is whether
Donald Trump will adhere to his campaign
Trumps policy towards Pakistan would
promises and what future holds for Pakistan in the be the continuation of existing US
changing dynamics of a currently unipolar world.
policy which is to contain Pakistans
The idea that his campaign rhetoric and style, nuclear ambitions.
based on biases and prejudices, was just a tool to
win him the election, is slowly proving wrong. He
has already sent out a strong message that he other hand, it needs to be recognized that where
would stick to his promises that won him the uncertainty brings frustration in many ways, it may
office. There is conflict within the United States. well be an opportunity for discovery of new
There is a rise in hate crimes against all the groups avenues. Most of Trumps pre-election campaign
he targeted in his campaign and there is deafening focussed on making America great again.
silence from the presidential office on this American nationalism is his priority and this
upsurge. Some think tanks and political analysts agenda will be pursued despite resistance.
are foreseeing a possible impeachment while American time, policies and efforts would be
others predict that Trump will complete his term focused more on internal issues than external,
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resulting in reduced global role. Internationalism, importantly, to be close to Pakistans nuclear
globalization, free markets and ideals of liberal assets to protect them from extremist access and
democracy will be rolled back and a strongly maintain influence as well as keeping an eye on
nationalistic stance will be pursued. other countries neighbouring Afghanistan.
Trump has been a target of his own medias Thus, Trumps policy towards Pakistan would be
propaganda pre- and post-election campaign. the continuation of existing US policy which is to
Especially his ties with Russia are being carefully contain Pakistans nuclear ambitions. The India
watched. He would be under immense pressure first policy is not new either and hostility towards
whatever global decisions he takes. Americas Iran and watchful attitude towards China is also a
policy in the Middle East is nothing but Israels continuation. It would be a challenge for Pakistan
policy, and its policy in South Asia is primarily a to manage ties with US and China simultaneously
reflection of Indias policy. There seem to be no without compromising her own national interest.
immediate strategic threats for Pakistan, but Pakistan should be wary of possibilities of any
emphasis would be to bring India into Nuclear misunderstandings which might be created in its
Suppliers Group which would create an imbalance relations with China. CPEC currently seems to be
in the region. Pakistans challenge would be
economic stability and her approach should be
multilateral and considering possibilities of more Internationalism, globalization, free
alliances. In Trump era, more money will be spent markets and ideals of liberal democracy
on military build-up and nuclear arsenal renewal.
It might not mean troops on ground in more will be rolled back and a strongly
countries but it surely means that era of nationalistic stance will be pursued.
manageable bilateral ties is over. The time of easy
and free relations for Pakistan is over.
a one-way corridor where bilateral movement does
In this scenario, the most decisive factor for not exist. In this situation, it would be very easy to
Pakistan would be how the US builds ties with provoke the Pakistan public and traders against
China. With the increasing presence of new bases China which can ultimately affect the success of
on Chinese borders, this might become a conflict project.
area in the future. Therefore, Pakistan would not
become irrelevant however the situation might Pakistans leadership should prioritise national
evolve. Despite the uncertainty of the time, the interest with all honesty and confidence and should
bilateral relations of US and Pakistan would revisit the reliance on America and look for
remain extremely important. The myth that alternate friends. Pakistan-Turkey ties have a key
Pakistan and US were or can be strategic friends role to play in the coming future and so is the
has long been disproved. In Trumps era, it seems relation with Iran. Pak-Iran pipeline is a very
that America will have very few strategic friends, important strategic necessity which has been
if any, and Pakistan would be out of question. Pak- ignored in the past and should be brought into
US relations have been and will, in all probability, consideration again. In Pak-US ties, Pakistan has
be transactional in future. Such ties have limits and always pursued American line more than her own
are only used for the respective interests on both interest. Similarly, CPEC is a significant, historic
sides. and game changing development. But this is the
key moment to define, prioritise and safeguard our
The American presence in Afghanistan would own interests. Theres a big disparity in China and
continue in Trumps era due to two reasons. Pakistan economic situations. Pakistan should try
Firstly, to make a point that they are needed in an to bridge this gap and make use of this golden
unstable country and secondly, and more opportunity. In the new emerging global scenario,
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ties with China, Iran, Turkey and Russia hold key Trumps policies towards Pakistan are still unclear
importance, and so are the relations with Malaysia and would unfold with time. The focus of US
and Indonesia. Middle East should be made a part President would be more inward. Pakistan should
of the alliance but keeping in mind their fragile, ill- avoid defeatist approach as well as over optimistic
advised and dis-balanced economy, political and approach. The correct political strategy would be
economic stability is a far-fetched dream in that caution and active diplomacy. Pakistan does not
region. want enmity with United States but should keep
her own national interest in the forefront which has
not been the case in the past.

Prepared by IPS Task Force | For queries: Mairaj-ul-Hamid, Asst. Research Coordinator, mairaj@ips.net.pk | www.ips.org.pk

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