There’s nothing Trump doesn’t tweet, and there aren’t many he spares in his tweets that on a normal day read like knee-jerkish, mean-spirited, written-in-unsuppressed rage over-reactions of a testosterone-fuelled juvenile to an imagined or a real slight.
Given his position as the president of the most powerful country and the only superpower of the world, expectation of restraint, dignity and magnanimity from Trump is akin to expecting Grinch to not steal Christmas. Or the Sun to not rise in the east.
My analogies are as exaggerated as the expansiveness of Trump’s imagination when he stares at the blank screen with the word draft winking at him to dare to be more outrageous than his last tweet.
Ross Barkan, writer and journalist, is unapologetically direct when he writes in The Guardian on Trump: “...our child-king, slobbering over the country and embarrassing us all...the worst president America has ever had.”
Donald Trump of the USA versus Imran Khan of Pakistan is the latest Twitter fight in the age of Trump who with each new tweet rewrites the virtual rules of engagement, turning the playbook of protocol, diplomacy and intricacies of bilateral interactions on its head, gleefully kicking its proverbial backside faster than you can say retweet.
From America’s usual refrain to Pakistan of “Do More,” Trump tweet-jumped to Pakistan “do[es] nothing for us.” And a tweet that wouldn’t have elicited more than an oh-no-not-again – if Americans or the world started to pay attention to Trump’s unmentionable tweets, it would be Apocalypse Now every day – triggered a reaction that not many expected.
Nothing unites Pakistan quicker than a Trump tweet or two belittling Pakistan’s immense role in the US War on Terror. Exceptions are there; there are a certain type of Pakistanis who watch and tweet in glee whenever Pakistan is trashed/attacked by a western country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan does not tweet to shock, intimidate, amuse or insult. His Twitter timeline, devoid of replies and retweets, other than serving as a noticeboard of his political and now prime ministerial viewpoints and activities, is merely a run-of-the-mill collection of tweets that are expected from any head of a state. Khan does not tweet to become a global headline, and what he did in response to Trump’s tweet was a simple stating of facts.
Khan’s now globally viral response is not nationalistic bluster or patriotic hyperbole; what he said is a fact. Pakistan has suffered huge human and material losses after being forced to become a part of George W. Bush’s post-9/11 “you are either with us or against us” war.
Khan tweeted: Record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump’s tirade against Pakistan: 1. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror. 2. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US "aid" was a miniscule $20 bn. Our tribal areas were devastated & millions of ppl uprooted from their homes. The war drastically impacted lives of ordinary Pakistanis. 4. Pak continues to provide free lines of ground & air communications(GLOCs/ALOCs).Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?”
The noteworthy point: Imran Khan the prime minister has merely reiterated what Imran Khan the politician has said for years. That Pakistan is fighting US wars, that Pakistan must not be part of any western/US war in which the US focused on its goals of global hegemony and self-aggrandisement kills people in our region, that the toll on Pakistan of the US wars is astronomical compared to any monetary or other compensation America has given Pakistan in the guise of being its ally, and that no US war in Afghanistan should have ever been brought to Pakistan.
Pakistan’s history is fraught with its misplaced military adventurism that stemmed from its myopic and self-detrimental paradigms of “strategic depth” and “strategic assets.” The debate of the why and how of that is beyond the domain of my limited-word op-ed; what I know is that Khan’s government has a unique chance to construct the groundwork for a change that would be beneficial to Pakistan in ways that are far reaching and substantial. Khan’s tweet to Trump “Now we will do what is best for our people and our interests” is the indication of a beginning of a new chapter of Pakistan’s geostrategic identity: Pakistan for Pakistan.
Pakistan in 2018 is at a juncture where it appears to be in the process of having a much-needed and long-delayed introspection.
It is about a government committed to enhancement of overall dynamics of Pakistan as a state that is focused on the micro and macro, poised to recalibrate its image in ways that are in synchronisation with the best interests of its people on all levels, and is set to have a realignment vis-à-vis its status regionally and internationally. Much is to be done.
And it will all start with Pakistan having an economic plan that is divested of foreign aid in any form. It is a long, arduous, painstaking process but it is not impossible. Pakistan’s bilateral relationship with any country must be based on mutual respect, and in areas that are mutually beneficial. Trade not war. Khan’s focus is to have a viable economic roadmap inclusive of strengthened institutions, a strong infrastructure, accountability and transparency, a stable environment for business and investment, and a robust export and tourism plan.
Prime Minister Khan’s tweets are not for aww and awe. They are a reflection of his deep commitment to make Pakistan a country that is self-reliant, focused on the good of its people, and in a position where friends are not approached for aid, and fair-weather allies do not demean you for what is rightfully yours. Khan’s dream of that Pakistan is that of all of us who love Pakistan beyond self.
We stand with our prime minister every step of the way.