At the heart of the first-ever telephone contact between Nawaz and Trump is the official readout issued by the Pakistani government. In what can be described as a remarkable and unprecedented conversation, Trump heaped praise on Pakistan and its prime minister.
Telephone conversations between world leaders are usually reported carefully using diplomatic language. But in this case, the Prime Minister’s Office released the transcript showing how Trump was all praise for Pakistan and its people.
It appears that Premier Nawaz was not even expecting such warmth from Trump. His office apparently was so overwhelmed by the ‘flowery language’ purportedly used by the president-elect that it released the official statement in a hurry, only to issue a revised version later after correcting the typos and other mistakes in the first version.
The Trump office, in a separate statement, would not say if the president-elect used all these words. But it did confirm that he had ‘productive conversation’ about how the United States and Pakistan will have a strong working relationship in the future. “President-elect Trump noted that he is looking forward to a lasting and strong personal relationship with Prime Minister Sharif,” it said.
Pakistan’s handling of the telephone conversation, however, was not taken well by the mainstream American media, which insisted that Islamabad breached protocol by releasing the transcript. CNN said readouts of phone calls between world leaders are usually summarised in order to protect leaders from incidental backlash – like the one the Trump team put out. They’re dry and diplomatic statements recapping conversations using carefully chosen buzzwords.
And political insiders say the calls themselves are usually quite formal. “A president wouldn’t gush over a foreign leader the way that Donald Trump did. He wouldn’t volunteer to do all these things,” said CNN political analyst David Gergen, who has served as an adviser to four presidents.
But former ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi said the Trump office would have contested the Pakistani version if it was not reported accurately. Although Naqvi agreed that normally telephone conversations are not reported like this, he added that a transcript can be released if the discussions are not confidential or the other side has no issue with it.
Trump’s unexpected praise for Pakistan and its prime minister has also attracted attention globally because the president-elect had previously taken a tough stance on some of the policies Islamabad had pursued.
For example in 2011 he tweeted “Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend” after Osama bin Laden was killed in a secret US raid in Abottabad. “When will Pakistan apologize to us for providing safe sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden for 6 years?! Some ‘ally’,’” he tweeted in 2012.
Trump’s pledge to work closely with Pakistan’s premier will certainly not go down well with India. In October, Trump said the US and India would be ‘best friends’ if he was voted to power.