The press release issued by the Pakistani government of the telephone conversation between PM Nawaz Sharif and President-elect Donald Trump, created ripples all over the world. There was an uproar in the USA over effusive language used by Donald Trump when talking to PM Sharif. Analysts were bewildered by the contents of the call given earlier comments on Pakistan by Trump as well as current tense relations between the two countries on a number of issues.
Forbes referred to the call on behalf of Trump as sending the wrong message to India. The Times magazine of USA referred to the call as being ‘reckless and bizarre’. Indian government refrained from commenting on the language used, saying this was the version released by the Pakistani side, however, The Hindu Newspaper reported Vikas Swarup, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, as saying “The conversation does talk about the President-elect willing to resolve the outstanding issues of Pakistan. Well, we believe the most outstanding of the outstanding issues is Pakistan’s continued support for cross-border terrorism. To that extend, we welcome a dialogue between the U.S. and Pakistan to resolve that particular issue.” While, Indian personalities found the whole affair highly amusing, Shekar Gupta tweeted
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) November 30, 2016
Donald Trump’s office put out a statement saying that such flowery language had not been used and that they “had a productive conversation about how the United States and Pakistan will have a strong working relationship in the future.”
Readout of phone call with the Prime Minister of Pakistan:
“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.”
President-elect Donald Trump’s Office
The Pakistani government itself has come under strong criticism that it violated diplomatic norms for releasing the President-elects direct quotes. On Thursday, on CNN, the former White House press secretary Ari Fleisher, Secretary to President George W. Bush in 2001-03, stated it was a “bad thing to do” and “ if I was the US press secretary right now, I would be on the phone right now chewing out my counterpart in Pakistan” he further added
It was a dumb thing for the Pakistanis to do.
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) December 1, 2016
Good news is Trump spoke to Nawaz Sharif. Bad news for NS is this won’t save him from Panama scandal – not even if a Trump letter arrived!
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 1, 2016
The diplomatic norm of such calls, is to release what the PM of the country himself said during such conversations. After PM Narendra Modi called Donald Trump on November 10, to felicitate him on his win, Vikas Swarup, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, India, tweeted the two leaders spoke.
PM conveyed his best wishes & the two leaders looked forward to working closely to take the #IndiaUS strategic partnership to a new height.
— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) November 9, 2016
What exactly and how Donald Trump said it is for the two men to know. It is not clear why the office of Nawaz Sharif, the third time Prime Minister of Pakistan, was ignorant on diplomatic protocols. But the whole affair will no doubt leave a bad taste in the mouths of the new President-elect’s administration and Pakistan on a diplomatic back foot.