Pakistani media outlet The Nerve Center (TNC), that claims to transform the media in the country “through research, data analytics and innovation” claims that their Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meeting with POTUS Donald Trump was a “roaring success”.
— The Nerve Center (@_nervecenter) September 24, 2019
In their view, Mr Trump has a “special relationship” with Imran Khan despite being ruthless in the international area. Perhaps, they haven’t realized it yet but as part of his ‘America First’ policy, Mr Trump keeps his enemies far but allies farther. Therefore, ruthlessness comes naturally to him.
Praising Imran Khan
One of the five successes listed by TNC is the praise that the US President had for Imran Khan. As anyone would have observed, these are diplomatic courtesies that are the norm whenever two heads of government meet each other. For instance, Mr Trump calls Chinese President Xi Jinping great as well but that doesn’t stop him from accusing China of cheating or imposing tariffs on them. But given Imran Khan’s track record, when he has often been driving the leaders of other countries around in hope of favourable deals, this can certainly be construed as a diplomatic triumph by Pakistan’s own standards.
Criticism of Trump’s predecessors
The second point listed was Donald Trump’s criticism of past US Presidents. His statement that Pakistan had been treated unfairly by his predecessors has been touted as another diplomatic triumph. It appears they haven’t been following Mr Trump for long. He has regularly criticized the foreign policy of erstwhile US governments and slammed them for the deterioration of his country.
His campaign literally said ‘Make America Great Again’ which means that his predecessors had ruined the country. Therefore, it’s not really a surprise that Mr Trump criticized US foreign policy with respect to Pakistan as well. How did he change it? By putting an end to millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, which again, doesn’t really work in Pakistan’s favour. Apart from that, TNC conveniently ‘failed to mention’ the other part he said which was “I wouldn’t say Pakistan has treated us too well either, but maybe there was a reason.” This perhaps explains why he has put an end to the millions of dollars Pakistan was receiving as financial aid.
Mediation in Kashmir
The most interesting point, however, was on Kashmir. TNC claimed that the US President’s remarks that he was willing to mediate on Kashmir were a great diplomatic triumph for Pakistan. However, when one looks at his words closely, Mr Trump says clearly that he would mediate only if both countries agree to it.
Again, that is perfectly consistent with what India has been saying on the matter. India doesn’t want mediation. Therefore, Donald Trump won’t media as both parties aren’t agreeing to it. It’s a simple matter of putting two and two together. However, that appears to be too much for Pakistani media.
In response to a question about alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, Mr Trump said, “Sure. I’d like to see everything work out. I want it to be humane. I want everybody to be treated well. You have two big countries, and they’re warring countries and they’ve been fighting.” This statement was pinned as “great concern” by TNC. Donald Trump may not be known for ‘heavy words’ but even in his vocabulary, there are much better words to convey “great concern” than that. As Donald Trump would say, “This is the worst demonstration of “great concern” in the history of demonstrations of “great concern”, maybe ever.”
Even later, when Imran Khan emphasized on Kashmir and said it was a humanitarian issue, Donald Trump carefully navigated the issue without saying anything at all that could be construed as a slight to India. The full transcript of the joint press conference can be read here.
Trade, not Aid
The fourth triumph that was mentioned was “Trade not Aid”. It’s pretty hilarious considering the fact that stopping the flow of money to Pakistan hurts only them. Besides, it’s not really a surprise that Mr Trump is speaking of trade. He was a businessman before he became President and he performs his duties pretty much like a Businessman. Therefore, his emphasis on trade is not surprising.
Calling out Modi
The last on the list was “Calling out Modi”. Donald Trump praised the ‘Howdy, Modi’ mega rally in presence of Khan and said PM Modi made “very aggressive statements” on the issue of terrorism at the Houston event. He added that he was surprised himself but the statements were received well by the crowd of Indian-Americans present at the event. That isn’t ‘calling out’ anyone at all. Normally, when somebody ‘calls someone out’, there’s is an intention to cause some damage to that other person’s image.
In this particular instance, it didn’t have that effect at all. In fact, everyone agreed that the comments were a compliment which became obvious when Donald Trump praised Narendra Modi profusely during his press conference with the Indian Prime Minister. He even called Modi the ‘Father of India’ and likened him to the legendary musician Elvis Presley.
What Imran Khan himself thinks
Amusingly enough, not even Imran Khan had such a positive outlook about the success of his trip to the USA. He said at a press conference on the sidelines of the UNGA, “I am disappointed by the international community. If eight million Europeans or Jews or even eight Americans were put under siege, would the reaction have been the same? There’s no pressure yet on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lift the siege. We’ll keep putting the pressure… What are 9,00,000 troops doing there? Once the curfew is lifted, god knows what is going to happen after that”. Khan lamented the global support India enjoys on Kashmir and its prominence in world affairs.
TNC’s claims of Pakistan’s triumph during Imran Khan’s press briefing with Donald Trump is little more than propaganda designed for consumption by its domestic audience. The Pakistani media serves as an extended hand of the establishment to assuage the concerns of its population and convince them of the might of the Pakistani state. After all, the establishment has even succeeded in making their citizenry believe that they have actually won every single war against India, including the one in 1971 where they surrendered meekly and lost half of their territory.
In the age of the internet, it’s extremely difficult to keep an entire country dumbed down as information is easily accessed. However, in the case of Pakistan, when the ministers and army spokesperson keep proving again and again that their collective IQ barely touches that of the donkeys they export to China, even the internet seems to have little effect in terms of enlightenment.