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Don offers to play ‘any role’ in addressing Pak’s problems

Did US President-elect Donald Trump actually shower those glowing comments on Pakistan and its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during their telephonic conversation?

A statement issued by Pakistan read that Trump heaped praise on Sharif and offered to play “any role” in helping Pakistan address its problems. The US President-elect’s transition team just described their discussion as “productive”.

Sharif called Trump on Wednesday night to congratulate him as the two leaders discussed various issues.

“I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honour and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January, that is before I assume my office,” Trump told Sharif, according to a statement issued by the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office.

Trump also told Prime Minister Sharif that he has a “very good reputation”, the statement said.

“You (Sharif) are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long,” Trump was quoted as telling Sharif.

Trump said Pakistan is an “amazing” country with “tremendous opportunities”, the statement said. “Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people,” the President-elect said.

Sharif also invited Trump to visit Pakistan.

In his reply, Trump said, “he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people.” 

While Sharif’s office has released a readout of his conversation with Trump, the US president-elect’s team has issued bare minimum information, triggering much bemusement both in mainstream and social media.

“We know that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US President-elect Donald Trump spoke over the phone on Wednesday. What was said during that call is what’s at issue,” CNN commented.

“After the conversation, the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office put out a statement directly quoting Trump – a violation of diplomatic protocol – in which he glowingly praised Sharif,” the network said.

Readouts of phone calls between world leaders are usually written in a safe way in order to protect them from incidental backlash – like the one the Trump team put out, it said.

“They’re dry and diplomatic statements summing up conversations using carefully chosen buzzwords,” it said, adding that such 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,” says CNN political analyst David Gergen, who has served as an adviser to four presidents.

He added: “Our relationship with Pakistan is one of the most sensitive and difficult relationships in the world. It’s an extremely important relationship.” 

When making that call, a president would likely have a press aide and national security advisers at his side, according to Gergen. “You’d carefully think through any call like that, you’d make your two or three points, [then] over and out,” he said.

“Especially don’t leave them in a position where they could put out something so gushing that it hurts your relationship with India,” he added.

The Washington Post, in its report on the Sharif-Trump conversation, said, the Pakistani readout is “unusual in that it focuses almost entirely on Trump’s contributions to the conversation, and reproduces them in a voice that is unmistakably his.” 

“Lavishing praise on the Pakistanis would be a major turnaround for the president-elect. In 2012, Trump took to his favorite social media platform, Twitter, to denounce Pakistan,” the leading American newspaper said.

According to Pakistani account, Trump lavished extravagant praise upon Sharif and Pakistani people.

“It is unclear to what extent these are direct quotes, but there was much bemusement both in mainstream and social media,” the BBC commented. .

However, Trump’s lavish praise for Sharif and his offer to play a role in addressing Pakistan’s problems found no mention in the readout of the conversation between the two leaders issued by Trump’s transition team.

“President-elect Trump and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif spoke today and had a productive conversation about how the United States and Pakistan will have a strong working relationship in the future,” the transition team said.

“President-elect Trump also noted that he is looking forward to a lasting and strong personal relationship with Prime Minister Sharif,” the transition team said. The presidential transition team did not immediately respond to questions on the Pakistani readout.

After being elected on November 8, Trump has so far spoken with more than 40 foreign leaders.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first few foreign leaders to have spoken to Trump. 

India takes dig at Pak claims over Trump call

The Indian government has said it is looking forward to US President-elect Donald Trump addressing what it referred to as Pakistan’s ‘most outstanding of outstanding problems’ – terrorism. The tongue-in-cheek comment came in response to questions over Pakistan’s claims that made it appear that Trump had offered to side with Pakistan in its unsolved issues. 

“We have seen the reports of the conversation (between Trump and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif) that were one-sided and claimed the President-elect promised to help Pakistan with all outstanding issues,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup, when asked about the statement that was issued by the Pakistan government that hinted that Trump would be willing to intervene on Pakistan’s behalf. “We look forward to the President-elect helping Pakistan address the most outstanding of its outstanding issues – terrorism,” Swarup added in deadpan. 
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