ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The morning papers were giddy with hyperbole on Thursday over the news that Donald Trump had spoken to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by phone a day earlier and showered compliments on a country he once accused of “betrayal and disrespect” — even offering to help the nuclear power solve its problems abroad.
“ ‘Call me any time,’ Trump tells PM,” touted the Express Tribune, describing the “instant rapport” between the two leaders during the congratulatory call initiated by Sharif. His office then released a readout of the call. The newspaper also suggested that the U.S. president-elect, who called Pakistan a “fantastic country” with “fantastic people,” might “prove to be Islamabad’s good friend.”
By the end of the day, though, the official tone had become more circumspect and commentators were skeptical that Trump, who has little foreign-policy experience and has close business relations with Pakistan’s archrival, India, really was ready to weigh in on the thorny issues that have long roiled the Muslim nation’s international relations.
“Our relationship with the United States is not about personalities — it is about institutions,” said Nafees Zakaria, a spokesman for the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Describing Sharif’s gesture as a “courtesy call,” Zakaria said Pakistan would welcome any effort by Trump to ease regional tensions, but the spokesman added, “We do not comment on bilateral relations between sovereign countries.”