President Trump foretold that the pandemic was nearing its end. Yet, he and his Mrs are now perhaps USA’s most prominent coronavirus patients. Just yesterday, the 45th US President and First Lady of the United States tested positive for COVID. Of course, this has serious implications for the upcoming US presidential election. News channels and international commentators across the globe are questioning whether this shall lead to changes in American foreign policy.
Having tested positive at 74, just 32 days prior to the presidential election, news reporters across North America are anxious about the outcome of the election. Several such reporters have also voiced their concern, stating that Trump falls in a high-risk category for complications from the disease. Needless to say, the president will have to quarantine for at least a set number of 14 days whilst being treated. Meanwhile, the US presidential contest must go on, regardless of the revelation that it is unlikely that the president will be fit to actively and/or physically participate and campaign.
Wishing President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump speedy recovery from COVID-19.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 2, 2020
With elections just around the corner, Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden at 51% has a substantial lead over him, whose approval ratings have dropped due to his mismanaging of the pandemic and a diminishing economy. National and International news channels predict that this lead will likely narrow in due course.
“An unusual election in the midst of the continuing pandemic means greater unpredictability especially in view of Trump’s efforts to set the stage to challenge and delegitimize the outcome if he loses,” comments entrepreneur Frank F. Islam. Regardless of what this means for the United States, it is crucial to determine how this affects Pakistan, hence the question; Trump or Biden for Pakistan?
Trump’s ‘America First’ unilateral policy seems to reject multilateralism. This includes disregarding international agreements and alliances such as, predominantly, NATO. Biden, of course, operates more actively on the foreign policy frontier, even calling himself a “liberal internationalist”. He promised to rescue America’s multilateral credentials, vouched to rejoin international organisations and even vouched to reinstate USA’s partnerships with, among others, Asia in addition to restoring ties with allies, all the while nourishing its membership with Nato.
Trump for Pakistan
“Pakistan’s ties with the US during Trump’s first term as president can be categorised as satisfactory, almost normal,” remarked Barrister Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah, when interviewed about his stance on ties between the two nations. The Barrister then proceeded to reflect on Trump’s words early in August 2017, when he commented on America’s strategy with regard to, among others, Afghanistan. The president had lamented how Pakistan gives “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror” and challenged Pakistan to “demonstrate its commitment to civilization.” Barrister Syed recalls, however, that Khan was not serving the office of PM at the time.
Trump extending support to India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi too operates against Pakistan’s political as well as personal agenda
Just last year, according to a White House statement, President Trump had said that the two leaders, Trump himself and Prime Minister Imran Khan, will “focus on strengthening cooperation between the United States and Pakistan to bring peace, stability, and economic prosperity to a region that has seen far too much conflict.” It appears that throughout Khan’s time as Prime Minister, US President Trump’s approach towards Pakistan – USA relations have been considerably more concerted and peacemaking.
In 2019 for instance, Trump had advanced his utmost support in order to arbitrate the conflict between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir conflict. Of course, this offer was by and large unsolicited and subsequently neglected by India. Most recently, President Trump spoke with PM Khan on and about their coordination and cooperation in tackling the coronavirus.
Trump subsequently guaranteed the provision of US medical and economic assistance to help Pakistan combat the virus. Of course, these revelations all the more paint a positive picture, simply portraying a hint of friendship and perhaps even a partnership between the two nations. Yet, this political partnership is not all that straight forward.
It should not go unnoticed that even though Trump advanced significant aid to Pakistan to help fight its battle against Covid, this assistance was not only delayed but minimal, especially when compared to how much or how fast neighboring China lended a helping hand.
Trump’s 100 ventilators versus the Chinese government’s provision of vast medical aid, such as but not limited to, 20,000 disposable gloves and 3000 protective face shields worth more than $3 million deems the latter the winner. These are numbers based on facts – Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Commission revealed that as of now, China’s anti-pandemic assistance accounts for 80% of the total Pakistan has received from the world.
“Donald Trump is an isolationist. His foreign policy is “America first.” This has led to nullifying many international agreements and restructuring trade deals with individual countries to try to make them look more advantageous to the U.S”, claims Islam.
Biden made clear that he not only observed, but also understood the pain Muslim-Americans must be feeling for their muslim counterparts in Kashmir
Islam further laments Trump’s stance as a “hard liner on immigration”, highlighting his insistence on closing the borders on immigrants. “His call during the presidential campaign for a “complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the United States is evidence that the Islamic religion is one of the factors at the top of his list for controlling immigration” added the entrepreneur.
Trump extending support to India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi too operates against Pakistan’s political as well as personal agenda. Despite skirmishes over trade deals, over the past year or so, Trump appears to remain acquainted with Modi. He was present at Modi’s Howdy Modi rally in Houston just last year. Of course, Modi returned the favor by hosting Trump’s Namaste Trump visit to India just 7 months ago.
Biden for Pakistan
Having visited Pakistan on various occasions, Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States, seems to be well acquainted with the country’s government and is all the more anticipated to involve and entertain the nation far more than his demorcatic rival.
In the year 2015, he was awarded with the Hilal-e-Pakistan for his contributions to democracy and socio economic development in Pakistan. Previously, in his capacity as Vice President, Biden had a significant role to play in the signing of the Kerry – Lugar Bill 2009, which allowed $7.5 billion worth of non-military aid to be advanced to Pakistan over a period of 4 years.
While Trump prioritises building walls, Biden on the other hand seems to adopt a more internationalistic and integrational approach. In his capacity as chair of the Foregin Relations Committee, Biden remained familiar with South East Asia. Pakistan, of course, was no exception. It is therefore anticipated that Biden will continue to advance socioeconomic relations with Pakistan.
Whilst delivering his Ramadan message, Biden promised to enforce immigration policies, all the while ensuring that these are neither “morally bankrupt” nor “racist”. Biden had powerful words to say for American Muslims, claiming that if he is elected, he will ensure that the annual White House Eid celebration is reinstated. He also promised to make the workplace a stronger and safer environment for Muslim public servants. Naturally, these comments go a long way in setting the seal on U.S – Pakistan relations.
Additionally, it is expected that – if granted office – Biden will take up the Kashmir issue with India, demanding accountability for any and all violations of human rights. Biden made clear that he not only observed, but also understood the pain Muslim-Americans must be feeling for their Muslim counterparts in Kashmir. He promised he would urge India to “take all necessary steps to restore rights for all the people of Kashmir”.
Which of the two candidates actually takes up these issues and fulfills his promises, time can only tell. At the end of the day, the nation whose prosperity is top priority for both Trump and Biden is not Pakistan, but America itself.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.