Donald Trump’s surprise election as the 45th United States President has Pakistanis wary that he may accelerate what they see as a shift in American policy to favour arch-foe India in the long rivalry between nuclear-armed neighbours, analysts said on Wednesday.
Historical allies in the region, Islamabad and Washington have seen relations sour over US accusations that Pakistan shelters Islamist militants, a charge Pakistan denies. They hit new lows in May when a US drone killed the leader of the Afghan Taliban movement on Pakistani territory.
At the same time, Pakistan’s ties with traditional rival India have also deteriorated this year, with India saying Pakistan-based militants killed 19 of its soldiers in a September attack on the Uri army base in the disputed Kashmir region.
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To many Pakistanis, Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric — he once proposed banning Muslims entering the United States — and business ties with India are signs that his administration could shift further toward New Delhi.
“America will not abandon Pakistan, but definitely, Trump will be a tougher President than Hillary Clinton for Pakistan,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, Lahore-based foreign policy analyst. “I think India will have a better and smoother interaction compared to Pakistan.”
Mr. Trump has yet to lay out a detailed policy for South Asia, although he recently offered to mediate between India and Pakistan in their dispute over the divided territory of Kashmir.
He also told Fox News in May that he would favour keeping nearly 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan “because it’s adjacent and right next to Pakistan which has nuclear weapons.”