Pakistan–Trust deficit galore (July 21, 2010) Daily Times

“Trust deficit” is the most frequently used term in Pakistan. Consider this:

Pakistan does not trust the US though it is the biggest donor to the country and is the major market for our exports. Why? Because the majority feels that the US administration is only with us to destroy Al Qaeda and establish a government of its choice in Afghanistan. There are conspiracy theorists who think that US wants to break Pakistan and capture its nuclear bombs in cohort with India.

Hillary Clinton says that there is a trust deficit between the two countries and is not diplomatic about expressing her distrust. She has reiterated many times that some people in our establishment know where Osama is in Pakistan.  At the same time US distrusts Pakistan because it is harbouring Afghan Taliban and their local comrades. Their NATO partners are also of the view that almost 75% of terrorist activities leads are found back in Pakistan.

Pakistan has a perennial distrust of India. Since its inception there is a lurking fear that India does not want Pakistan to exist. This distrust was based on some genuine fears in the early days. But even when the situation has changed now and break up of Pakistan is not in the interest of India, the big brotherly attitude of the latter is not helping to build trust. India has this problem with other neighbours too. Pakistan has a major fear that India is working to divert the rivers allocated to it in the Indus Water Treaty. This again is not peculiar to Pakistan, Bangladesh is also wary of the dam being built by India on their lifeline rivers. But the issue is being described as friction and not distrust. The lower riparian countries of the Mekong and Yannan rivers that flow from China also have a similar mistrust with the Chinese government.

India does not trust Pakistan because it has fought two covert attacks from Pakistan in 1965 in Kashmir and 1999 at Kargil. India has also suffered at the hands of the Pakistan-based Jihadi organisations in Kashmir, Delhi and Mumbai, which gives it a reason to distrust our establishment.

Pakistan has a trust deficit with Afghanistan as our establishment thinks that the Karzai government is closer to India. Islamabad does not trust the government in Kabul and blames it for giving more space to India and is cooperating with its intelligence to destablise Pakistan.

Afghanistan does not trust Pakistan because it has been interfering in its affairs for many decades. Our establishment’s strong urge to have strategic depth in Afghanistan by installing “a favourable government” in Kabul has created fissures in the trust. The fact that Taliban leaders are hiding in Pakistan and their forces are using our country as a hinterland do not give us any excuse, when the Afghans say they don’t trust our policies.

Pakistan does not have a trust deficit with Iran, but has a strong suspicion that it finances and supports the Shiite militants in Pakistan.

Iran on the other hand has a trust deficit with Pakistan because they think Pakistan is letting the Saudi and US governments to use its land for destablising the Iranian government.

This was a cursory look at the trust deficit which Pakistan has with all its neighbours barring China. Our friendship with China has a strong bond based on the common interest to contain Indian influence in the region.

Now consider some of the trust deficits at the internal front:

Smaller provinces do not trust Punjab. They feel that because it is the biggest province population-wise and about 80% of the army comes from Punjab, it has been exploiting other provinces for the last 60 years.

Though the situation has changed now and Punjab politicians are becoming conscious that provincial autonomy would have to be respected, there are still many who do not trust the Baloch and Sindhi nationalist. To them anybody who is against the exploitation of the smaller nationalities and does not share their perception is a traitor, unless proven otherwise.

The army does not trust major politicians. They think that the ‘bloody civilians’ cannot be trusted with the National Security Policy. Hence relations with USA, India, Afghanistan, Iran and China should be managed by the GHQ. The foreign office and political leadership is thus obliged to tow their line. They also do not trust the civilian government to deal with Balochistan’s burning discontent.

The civilian leader may it be from PPP or PML (N) have a trust deficit with the army. They feel that whenever a political government has tried to change the national security policy, it has been booted out of power. A good example is the present coalition government which first tried to change Pakistan policy vis-à-vis India, but soon realised that to survive and complete their term, they will have to abdicate decision making on major issues to the real establishment.

Ever since the present superior judiciary has been restored there is a mutual trust deficit between the elected government and them. The judiciary feels that the civilian government is conspiring to undermine its powers.

The civilian government does not trust the judiciary, as it feels that their judgments may destablise the present dispensation. Both the institutions are trying to claim wider space in the polity of Pakistan.

Before I am blamed by some ‘chest-thumping patriots’ for looking at the trust deficit balance sheet of Pakistan critically, let me concede that many countries have some problems with their neighbours and frictions within their country. But Pakistan has a distinction of having trust deficit galore.

Anyway out here we should be more concerned about the whirlpool of trust deficit in which our boat is swirling at a nauseating speed. The trouble is that the establishment here is not willing to accept that the national security policy which they have followed for 60 years with a slight difference of accent is a disaster. How the hell are we going get out of the present mess if we do not accept that there must be something wrong with our policies? These faulty policies are costing us the loss of dozens of lives a day. (ayazbabar@gmail.com)

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