KARACHI, Pakistan — Did President Donald J. Trump just say “America First”? It’s kind of worrying that American presidents have to steal slogans from third-world dictators.
In Pakistan, we had a military ruler named Gen. Pervez Musharraf. He made lots of friends in Washington, D.C., after taking over in a bloodless coup in 1999. On his return from his first visit to Washington, he proclaimed “Pakistan First.” He was such a great buddy of President George W. Bush that he got the latter to endorse his book on television. These buddies started new wars, rekindled old ones. Lots of people died, lots more fell into new depths of poverty.
When you say America first or Pakistan first — or whatever unlucky country it is that allows a pampered old man to say those things — it always means me first. My family first. My friends first. My friends’ friends are going to be O.K. I’ll decide what’s best for this country. In fact, I have already decided what’s best for this country: me. The bargain will work out like this: At the end of this, there will be lots more dead people, but we’ll have even more money than we did before.
In Pakistan, we must have done something to deserve the dictator we had, but American voters have finally shown the Third World that we are brothers and sisters. Thanks for finally telling us that the American dream is basically a Ponzi scheme: You see all this money I have? You can have it, too. But can I take this last rupee from your pocket while you gaze at our beloved flag?
My wife watched three and half minutes of the inauguration on CNN and said: “It’s all a bit Disneyland. So many blond people.” I have never been to Disneyland. I think I can stay away a bit longer. America invented Disneyland. It also played a part in making the Third World what it is today. Now Americans can stay home and live the experience.
Mohammed Hanif is the author of the novels “A Case of Exploding Mangoes” and “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti,” and a contributing opinion writer.