Speaking to BBC after meeting the US Secretary of States Rex Tillerson, Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif admitted a “huge trust deficit” between Pakistan and the United States. During his meeting with Pakistani leadership, US Secretary of State repeated President Trump’s call for Pakistan to do more to eradicate militant groups within the country. In response, the Foreign Minister reiterated that there is “no safe heavens” in Pakistan.
Secretary Tillerson had already set the tone of tough talks with Pakistan in his brief press conference after meeting with Afghan leadership in Kabul. Before talks with Pakistani authorities, he once again repeated his earlier stance about the militant’s sanctuaries. He told the embassy staff, “Pakistan has an incredibly important role in the South Asia Strategy. The country is important to us. The security, the stability of the country is important to us.” It seems that the US can find no other word except do more to conceal their inability to handle the mess that they created with there myopic foreign policy and military misadventures.
The trust issue between the two countries is not a new phenomenon. It existed ever since Pakistan decided to join hands with the United States in war on terror after 9/11 incident, which many people believe to be a stage drama fabricated by the US as an entry to the Afghanistan. After the induction of US troop in Afghanistan, the demand of do more intensified merely to throw the debris of its failure on Pakistan. However, in Musharrif era the then Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri managed to reduce the trust deficit with his skilful diplomacy and eloquently projecting Pakistan perception. There was no full time Foreign Minister for four years in the present government because the former PM Nawaz Sharif kept the portfolio himself with the sole purpose to avoid a befitting response to the allegations of the US and India. There used to be a turf war between the Advisor to Nawaz Sharif and his Special Assistant for foreign affairs as result of which the foreign office could not perform a proactive role in the conduct of foreign relations.
Never in the history of Pakistan such thick clouds of mistruth gathered over Pak-US relations despite frequent ups and downs because the incumbent governments made sagacious efforts to keep the US administration and Congress engaged by articulating Pakistan’s point of view on regional and world affairs. Ironically our relations with our neighbors and the United States are not cordial. India is doing habitual ceasefire violations almost on daily basis. Both India and Afghanistan are blaming us of being the epicenter of terrorism because the government has failed to fully highlight Pakistan’s role and sacrifices in the fight against global terrorism. Afghanistan has now started a trade war. President Ashraf Ghani has signed a decree banning the entry of Pakistani Trucks via Torkham and Spinboldak. On the other hand, Afghan trucks carrying transit trade goods face no such restrictions in Pakistan. It is essential for the foreign Minister and his team of foreign office to formulate a comprehensive foreign policy for meaningful engagements with the United States and the neighboring countries. Acknowledging the obvious trust deficit in Pak-US relations does not serve the national interest. The success lies in convincing the United States about our point of view on Afghanistan, which requires persuasion with skillful diplomacy instead of making allegations and counter allegations.