In an effort to “reset” the testy relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan, President Donald Trump turned on the charm during a visit from Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Kahn to Washington earlier this week. However, improving relations won’t be so easy back in Pakistan, where a vast majority of people still disapprove of U.S. leadership, according to a new Gallop poll.
The approval rating of America’s leadership dropped to 14 percent when Trump took office in 2016. His publicly rocky relationship with Pakistan and his outspoken objection to their supposed involvement with terror organizations likely contributed to Pakistani people’s unfavorable view of U.S. leadership.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump tweeted in early 2018. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
1. I want to thank President Trump for his warm & gracious hospitality, his understanding of Pakistan's point of view & his wonderful way of putting our entire delegation at ease. Appreciate the President taking out time to show us the historic White House private quarters.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) July 23, 2019
The Pakistani government has long been accused of harboring terrorists and allowing their country to be a planning zone for militants, who then move across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and carry out attacks.
A White House official said that during the meeting, Trump pressed Khan about Pakistan’s involvement with militants in the region. At an event in Washington on Tuesday, Khan pushed back and said that Pakistan has been fighting back against militants and that they have supported the U.S.’s efforts to combat terrorism in the region.
“We were fighting the U.S. war on terror,” he said. “There were no militant Taliban in Pakistan. But we joined the U.S. war. Unfortunately, when things went wrong, where I blame my government, we did not tell the U.S. exactly the truth on the ground.”
Their tense relationship was also on display during the meeting when Trump said that if he wanted to win the war in Afghanistan, he could in 10 days, but that he would not go down that path because 10 million Afghans would be killed.
“I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth, it would be over in literally in 10 days and I don’t want to do that – I don’t want to go that route,” the President said.
Khan objected to Trump’s statement and said that killing millions of people is not a solution. Instead, he said a peace deal is the best course to end the 18-year war. Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 1,456 mile-long border, so any attack on Afghanistan is likely to impact Pakistan as well.
Although Trump has had only a 14 percent approval rating in Pakistan for his entire presidency, he still believes that he has the best chance at repairing the relationship between the two nations.
“I don’t think Pakistan respected the United States, I don’t think Pakistan respected its presidents,” Trump said. “And I don’t blame them because they were dealing with the wrong presidents.”
During Obama’s second term in office, U.S leadership approval ratings in Pakistan sat steadily at around 20 percent. However, in 2011 the rating dropped to four percent after the U.S government killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
“Never did I feel more humiliated because here was a country which was supposed to be an ally and our ally did not trust us”, Khan said in response to a question regarding the U.S’s secrecy around Bin Laden’s killing.