iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The government of Pakistan provided a readout of a phone call between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Donald Trump Wednesday claiming that the president-elect heaped praise on the Pakistani leader, describing the South Asian nation and its people as “fantastic.”
According to the readout, Prime Minister Sharif called Trump and “felicitated him on his victory.”
The readout said President-elect Trump told Prime Minister Sharif “you have a very good reputation” and “you are a terrific guy … doing amazing work which is visible in every way.”
Trump told Sharif, according to the readout, “Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. 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 honor and I will personally do it.”
The Trump transition team released its own readout of the conversation Wednesday night: “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. President-elect Trump also noted that he is looking forward to a lasting and strong personal relationship with Prime Minister Sharif.”
The readout issued by the Pakistani government continued, “On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people,” the readout said. “‘Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people,’ said Mr. Donald Trump.”
The U.S. relationship with Pakistan is vital, albeit tenuous and complex. The two countries share a military alliance against terrorism, but at times, in pursuit of its own interest, elements of the Pakistani government have undermined the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan by supporting the Afghan Taliban. And while its makes an effort to combat terror organizations with Pakistan, such as the TTP or Pakistani Taliban, the government’s intelligence wing has been known to support that group’s overseas efforts. Also, some in the U.S. government, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, believed there were officials in Pakistan’s government who knew about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden before he was hunted and killed by U.S. forces inside Pakistan’s borders.
Pakistan is also involved in a high-stakes territorial dispute with India which has turned violent in recent months. The international community has long feared any escalation between the two nuclear-armed countries and the U.S. has to approach those issues carefully.
Trump’s reported remarks also seem to stand in contrast to his suggested policies of a “Muslim ban” and “extreme vetting” of immigrants from nations where terrorists are known to reside — a category Pakistan would fit in either circumstance.
The comments are also surprising considering Trump tweeted Wednesday that the Somali-born attacker at Ohio State University, who the FBI believes may have been inspired by radical jihadists, “should not have been in our country.”
Sources tell ABC News the attacker had been a legal permanent resident of the U.S. since 2014 and said that before he had been living at a refugee camp inside Pakistan.
Whether or not Trump’s statements were sincere or mere diplomacy jargon is hard to tell. Either way the Pakistanis took the reported remarks public and might soon remind the President of his proposal to “play any role that you want me to play.”
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