US President Trump’s infamous Muslim visa ban has been a tough pill to swallow for people all around the world, prompting protests, outcries and denunciations alike. In the midst of all that, our Foreign Office took an ambivalent position, in its first official reaction to the US administration’s visa ban, stating that it was America’s prerogative to decide who could or could not enter the country. This was a pragmatic decision. A protest would only make matters worse for Pakistanis who live there, or plan to travel, and we cannot afford to have the US as our enemy.

However, Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah criticised the government’s position, terming the Foreign Office statement “insufficient” and “lukewarm”, saying that the government needed to adopt a “proactive approach”.

As far as the government is concerned, it is taking a proactive approach by not taking an aggressive stance that could shake up the already frayed relationship it currently shares with the US. In doing so it is protecting its citizens and thousands of Pakistani-Americans settled in the US, that could pay heavily for the stance that the government takes, seeing that this travel ban could easily be extended on our country as well.

Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had emphasised upon Washington that instead of helping the victims of terrorism, the restrictions placed by the Trump administration would aid its perpetrators, amid concerns that Pakistanis may also be impacted. The whole world, including Pakistanis are against this policy of keeping out innocent women, children and families out of the US whose lives have been torn apart by terrorism. But Pakistan and the US have a longstanding and cooperative relationship despite its ups and downs and must try to get along with the new administration for the benefit of thousands of Pakistani families living there.

The opposition must stand by the government’s stance, which is the only pragmatic movie, even though it has a right to disagree with the policy itself, and most Pakistanis do. New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English also stopped short of condemning the 90-day ban even though he was against the policy. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that the ban on seven majority Muslim nations is “divisive, discriminatory and wrong,” but did not cancel Trump’s planned state visit to the UK even though Britain’s three biggest opposition parties have all called on the government to revoke the visit, planned for later this year. These countries have less to lose if they cry and condemn; yet they know how to approach a hostile situation with diplomacy. The opposition can learn how to do the same.