Bridging trust deficit

EXPRESSING her satisfaction with the outcome of the US-Pak-Afghan talks in Washington US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the first round had been quite meaningful. Her statement that the three countries would from now on regularly hold these meetings is a proper way to deal with the confusing situation in the South Asian region. It is good to learn that both Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to work closely in counter-insurgency operations along the border. The assurance given by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi while talking to media in Washington that steps have been taken to bridge the trust deficit would have a positive impact on Pak-Afghan relations. He also sounded quite optimistic when addressing a news conference on Thursday saying that the US intended to triple the current aid to more than $1.5 billion a year and that a bill to establish reconstruction opportunity zones in the tribal areas would be introduced in Congress in a day or two. What is more Chairman US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen in a press briefing said that his doubts about the Swat deal had been allayed. While these aspects are encouraging, it is a pity that the Obama administration did not cede any ground on drones. Surprisingly while the talks were being held, CIA Director Leon Penetta warned that the drone attacks would continue. Besides, the US has still to respond to COAS Gen Kayani's request for equipment like Cobra and Apache helicopters. A little more on the diplomatic front is certainly needed.

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