Bridging trust deficit?

FOR all the risks that Pakistan has taken and the sacrifices it has made in toeing the American line in the war on terror, it is hard to find any US official uttering a word of unqualified praise for it. There inevitably runs a streak of dissatisfaction. No doubt, as Islamabad continues to concede to Washington's increasing demands, the appreciation becomes more frequent, but it is hardly ever offered without a critical reference, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. One expected that the Obama Administration, having been actively involved in the region for so long, would by now have known the political as well as military limitations beyond which it would be difficult for Pakistan to go in pursuit of the war in FATA; yet the US expects more help from us than what we are doing for it. In a small excerpt of his CBS interview that has appeared in the Pakistani press, President Obama says, "Ultimately, in order for us to eradicate the problem, to really go after Al-Qaeda, we are going to need more cooperation from Pakistan. There is no doubt about that." He added that the tribal territories that straddle the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan were the "epicentre of the violent extremism directed against the West...and the United States". President Obama's views, read with the rather churlish remark of Secretary of State Clinton that Pakistan army is fighting Taliban groups within the country but not the militants using the Pakistani soil as a base to attack US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, make a confusing picture. The fact is that the militants in Waziristan and other parts of FATA are angry with Pakistan over its support for the US armed action across the border; they certainly are deadly opposed to the US and NATO forces' presence in Afghanistan. The Pakistan authorities must remain wary of further American demands like extending the military operation, involving Balochistan and southern Punjab, as well as the threat of the US acting on its own, if Pakistan would not. However, Secretary Clinton, as she spoke at the launch of American Pakistan Foundation at New York on Friday, assured the audience full respect for Pakistan's sovereignty, adding that her country was its partner not patron. She called upon the APF to work for bridging the trust deficit existing between the two, failing to realise that the remedy lies in the US's own attitude that has been responsible for creating that deficit in the first instance. She should be telling her government that rather than sending a team to assess "the needs of Pakistan" it should go ahead and meet these needs; for they have been voiced time and again by Islamabad.

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