ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is gearing up to work with the new US President Donald Trump, seen as a new challenge for the diplomatic corps.

Trump took oath on January 20, vowing to put “America first” in his foreign policy.

He also used the term “Islamic terrorism” in his inauguration speech, which disappointed the Muslim world.

“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilised world against ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth,” Trump had said.

Pakistan-US ties have been troubled in the recent past with differences over Pakistan’s role in the war on terrorism.

The US has been accusing Pakistan of allegedly having a soft corner for some militant groups, which Islamabad denies.

The US also partially backs India and Afghanistan allegations against Pakistan of allegedly exporting terrorism.

Over the months, Pakistan has been trying to clear the air referring to the massive sacrifices laid down by the armed forces and the civilians to root out terrorism.

Washington does acknowledge Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism but has always been pushing it to “do more”.

At the inauguration address, Trump said: “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidised the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders, while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas, while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.”

“Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families,” he added.

Officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the diplomatic corps was active to defuse possible US aggressiveness towards Pakistan under Trump.

“Our diplomats are already at work. The first objective is to convince the Trump administration that we are not discriminating among militant groups and fighting them all. The second aim is to take it from there to improve ties. It is a challenge but we are determined to achieve our goals,” a senior diplomat, dealing with the US, said.

He said that the new Pakistan ambassador to the US and new foreign secretary would take charge soon to lead the diplomatic efforts to win back the US after a marathon love-hate relationship.

As Trump took over from Barack Obama, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is also set to introduce “United States-specific” changes in the foreign ministry and the Pakistan embassy in Washington.

As part of the reshuffle, incumbent foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry will fly to Washington to replace Jalil Abbas Jilani as ambassador.

His name has been approved by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but a formal notification will be issued after acceptance by the US.

Chaudhry will in return be replaced by one of the top three candidates including ambassador to Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva Tehmina Janjua, High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Syed Ibne Abbas.

Foreign office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan was optimistic to work with the new US administration.

“We will focus on improvement in bilateral relations. It will be too early to say about our relations with new American government. Pakistan is ready to work together with the new US administration,” he said.

Zakaria said Pakistan and the US had their priorities in the region.

“Pak-US ties have been traditionally friendly and we hope to continue that trend,” he added.

International Relations expert Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal predicted that Trump would not change Obama’s policies in the initial years.

“I don’t think Trump will make any big changes. He will continue with Obama’s policies for the time being. Pakistan needs to have an active foreign policy and focus on activating its lobby in the US. We cannot say anything how Trump will move forward. It could be a diplomatic challenge for us,” he said.

Former ambassador Fauzia Nasreen said that initial days of Trump’s presidency were vital “as we remain unsure about the new president’s foreign policies.”

She said that Pakistan should work to improve ties with the US as Washington acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror.

Defence analyst Lt  General Abdul Qayyum (retd) said Pakistani nation had surprised the entire world by exhibiting extraordinary resilience, courage and guts by bravely facing and surmounting unprecedented challenges in the last 16 years.

“Ever increasing militancy forced the world to claim Pakistan’s disintegration and even new maps of truncated Pakistan were also circulated by our enemies. However, Pakistani nation turned the tables,” he said.

General Qayyum, a sitting senator of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), said militancy had been checked by 70 per cent.

“I am sure Trump knows this and will help Pakistan become fully peaceful. We want good ties with the US as it is a global power,” he added.