After Donald Trump’s disparaging tweet on Pakistan, our officials at first gave a measured reaction-with the Foreign Office giving a prompt and calculated response. However, as the United States has further acted upon the tweet- with additional hostile statements from the White House, it has become ever important that Pakistan gives a proper unified response-and not the outpour of fragmented and jumbled reactions we have received since then.

While the overall reaction from Pakistan has been a mixture of disapproval, backlash and denial, the response is still jumbled and confused, and does not indicate of a country united. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) has taken a head-on confrontational approach, where Director General Major Asif Ghafoor stated that Pakistan would respond to any US action in line with the aspirations of the people, but still left the window for cooperation open, saying that they would still push for a good relationship, and action against the Haqqani network would be visible soon. Meanwhile the NSC (National Security Council) and the FO (Foreign Office) proceeded to join in the confusion with their own responses, calling Trump’s allegations ‘incomprehensible’. To add to the noise, former PM Nawaz Sharif gave his own statement; while condemning Trump’s tweet, he said Pakistan needed to get its house in order, and that Pakistan’s downfall after 9/11 would not have happened under a civilian government.

Trump’s tweet should not be taken as just another unprofessional indulgence of the erratic President. This tweet is a continuation of a long-standing hostile attitude towards Pakistan from the US, since August; and constant reaffirmation from the White House shows that the United States means business. It might not come to war, but there is a lot that United States can do to drive its message home. Washington could remove Pakistan from the category of a major non-NATO ally, a designation that qualifies the country for receiving certain military technologies. The most extreme step the administration can take is to label Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, like Iran. This would cut off all assistance and engagement with Pakistan.

Relations have deteriorated to such a point because of US’s irresponsibility, but also because of our not taking the hostility since August seriously. With such consequences on our shoulders, it is foremost important to present a unified front. We need to build a singular narrative that needs to then be presented by the head of the sate - the PM - to drive the point home.