Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Image via Wikipedia

us – pakistan:
determinants of trust deficit 

S. Fasih Bukhari 

The upcoming Pakistan-US strategic dialogue must honestly address the divergent strategic perceptions, imperatives and compulsions of the two countries. After the last meeting, officials in Washington claim that a trust deficit exists. What are the determinants of this trust deficit? Who is saying one thing and doing another? Who is hiding what and why? One or both partners must now come clean if the partnership is to respond to the genuine needs of their people.

The overriding compulsion of a superpower is to deny freedom of action to a challenger. This is an understandable and expected American strategic aim. It is currently manifested in containing a rampant China, the only possible challenger on the horizon.

Pakistan facilitated America’s stated mission to remove the Taliban government and hunt down al Qaeda. But the American mission has broadened and morphed into a very different strategic direction, while the Pakistanis have been grappling with the harsh reality of violence at home.
Pakistanis are now worried about their position in America’s containment strategy vis-à-vis China, and the co-opting of India into it. Many think that their country is being destablised so that India can stand up to China and eventually, America and India can work together to cut off China’s trade corridor through Pakistan.

The trust deficit starts from this perceived American strategic shift. This fundamental divergence is the elephant in the dialogue that the Pakistani foreign minister and the army chief can no longer gloss over.

The trust deficit is reinforced by the fact that America is more than willing to spend over $100 billion a year on the war in Afghanistan but not even a fraction of that on weaning potential Taliban and al Qaeda recruits away from a life of militancy, by approving legislation to put in place the much-hyped — initially at least — reconstruction opportunity zones in Fata. There is no talk either of access for Pakistani products to American markets and no disbursement yet of the Kerry-Lugar funds. Furthermore, facilitation of US strategy is destroying Pakistan’s economy and its polity without any offsetting gains.

The US president has set a July 2011 deadline for exiting Afghanistan but the ground reality is that fortress-like missions are being built in Islamabad, Karachi and Peshawar. Is Pakistan supposed to believe that the contain-China strategy will also end in July 2011?

Now coming to India — the Pakistanis know that India will never stand up to China on America’s behalf. This means, in all honesty, that the Pakistanis impress upon the Americans the fact that the Indians are already achieving their strategic ends (especially with regard to Pakistan) through Washington and not via China. Proof of this is America’s silence on human rights abuses in Indian Kashmir, while continuing to put pressure on Pakistan on nuclear and other related issues.

The US strategy to control hydrocarbon resources of the Gulf and the Caspian Sea is understandable as is the strategy of containing Iran’s ability to upset Washington’s Arab and Israeli allies. However, silence on India’s destabilisation of Balochistan has no relevance or impact on the Iran containment strategy. Pressure against the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is being read in Islamabad as insensitivity to its economic needs and imperatives.
Pakistan must not be apologetic about its relations with China and Iran. China is a time- tested friend and the people of Iran and Pakistan share an intimate history. Pakistan’s and America’s perspective on China and Iran are poles apart.

That leaves Afghanistan. The current aim of both Pakistan and Afghanistan is to see the end of US occupation of that country. The Pakistani imperative that a post-war Afghan government, weighted in favour of the Northern Alliance or India, will not lead to peace in the region must be clearly understood. The strategic aims of the US and Pakistan do not lend credence to any perception of a “strategic partnership”. America must come clean that it is here to contain China and Iran, and strengthen India. Those are not the strategic aims of Pakistan. As a superpower, the US claims licence to “control” the outcomes in Asia, but it has demonstrated a weakening economic and military capacity to do so. This ‘burn-out’ will run its course. The countries of the region have problems amongst themselves that cannot be resolved if there is no external interference. All of them would prefer peace because it allows for economic advancement. But that has perhaps not been the demonstrated strategic aim of the US for this region.
The time to end the war has arrived. America is losing friends, its moral standing, and its image as a reliable partner, and may become marginalised from the emerging Asia if it continues its current strategy which few in the continent find acceptable.

Europe has distanced itself from America’s strategy because it wants a future of economic cooperation with Asia. This distancing may signal the decline of NATO and this is something that experts are grappling with in formulating the strategic concept to be deliberated at the upcoming NATO summit on November 20 in Lisbon.

The US-Pakistan strategic dialogue, coming before the Lisbon summit, should end on a note of caution for America and NATO. A strategy of economic cooperation and political non-interference in Asia, including China and Iran, would pay the people of America and Europe far greater dividends in the future than the current self-defeating strategy of “control”.

In the new world, events are moving fast. The ‘American Century’ based on the anti-human strategies of imperialism has ended within a decade.

Military superiority allows the killing of many people but cannot bomb their ideologies, cultures, and civilisation. Washington must understand this.
The Pakistan side must go into the dialogue understanding that it can no longer facilitate imperial strategy in Asia. Pakistan may also become marginalised from the emerging Asia if it continues its current suicidal strategy which few in Asia find palatable.

A strategic partnership for improving people’s lives should focus on ending the war and re-engineering political and economic relations with China and Iran, reconstructing Pakistan and Afghan economies which have been ravaged by imperial war games, and redesigning Pakistan and America’s relationships with the countries of this region.

The writer served as chief of naval staff from 1997-99 fasih.bokhari@tribune.com.pk
Source: Originally published in The Express Tribune , cross posted at Rupee News 
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.
Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.

Originally published in The Express Tribune and cross posted at Rupee News http://rupeenews.com/2010/10/17/telling-the-americans/

No comments:

Post a Comment


Custom Search