Pak-US trust deficit
Trust deficit has deepened between Pakistan and the US since May 21, 2016, when the CIA-operated drone strike killed the Chief of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansour in Nushki, Balochistan. On June 10, this year, a high-level delegation of the US visited Islamabad and met Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif and Adviser to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Adviser separately.
During the meeting, expressing his serious concern on the US drone strike in Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif highlighted as to how it had impacted the mutual trust and was counterproductive in consolidating the gains of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Gen. Raheel Sharif by elaborated, “All stakeholders need to understand Pakistan’s challenges…inter-tribal linkages and decades-old presence of over three million refugees…blaming Pakistan for instability in Afghanistan is unfortunate…target TTP and Mullah Fazlullah in their bases in Afghanistan…RAW and NDS are of fomenting terrorism…Pakistan is committed to work for a long term peace process for Afghanistan under Quadrilateral Coordination Group framework.”
However, America’s open double standards in relation to India and Pakistan and secret double game with the latter have created unbridgeable trust deficit between Pakistan and the US. The US has always preferred New Delhi over Islamabad. In this context, during the recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to America, addressing the media jointly, Prime Modi said, “I am thankful for the help and support that my friend Barack Obama has extended with regard to India’s membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).”
America has been backing Indian hegemony in Asia to counterbalance China. During President Obama’s second visit to India, the US and India announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008. This duplicity has initiated a dangerous arms race between Pakistan and India, and between China and India.
Setting aside the Indian irresponsible record of non-proliferation, and safety of nuclear arms, Washington also pressurized the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an accord of specific safeguards with India. America had already contacted the NSG to grant a waiver to India for starting civil nuclear trade on larger scale. Undoubtedly, unlike India, Pakistan’s nuclear assets are in safe hands—well-protected and are under tight security arrangements, having the best command and control system. However, taking cognizance of the US double standard, China and some responsible countries have decided to oppose in the meeting of the NSG to grant a waiver to India in this regard.
Nevertheless, after the latest incident of drone attack in Balochistan, Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. Notably, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan.
It is mentionable that on January 13, 2015, at least seven personnel of the Afghan security forces died during the suicide attack which targeted the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. The Islamic State group (ISIS or ISIL) claimed responsibility for the terror assault which coincided with efforts to restart the suspended peace process with the Taliban. Indian secret agency RAW was behind this terror attack to thwart these peace talks. Indian desperation in Afghanistan is increasing in the backdrop of growing engagements of Islamabad, Kabul, Beijing and Washington. Therefore, by arranging terror-assaults in Pakistan and Afghanistan, New Delhi is also sabotaging the peace process between the Afghan officials and representatives of Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan.
It is noteworthy that America is playing double game with Pakistan, because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World, which irritates America, India and Israel. Hence, American CIA, Israeli Mossad and RAW which are well-penetrated in the ISIS, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are using the militants of these terrorist outfits to destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s province of Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities. In this connection, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is their special target. Collectively or individually, these intelligence agencies are also assisting Jundullah (God’s soldiers)—the Sunni militant group which is active in Balochistan against Shias.
Based in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, Mullah Fazlullah, chief of the TTP is running a parallel government in Afghanistan. The militants of this outfit have their own legal system and own authority, exercising strict control. In the recent years, when the US-led NATO forces felt that they were failing in coping with the stiff resistance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the high officials and media of their countries started accusing Pakistan’s army and country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of supporting the Afghan Taliban in order to pacify their public for the protracted war in that country, which still continues. India avail the opportunity and also accused Islamabad of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan.
It is notable that Pakistan’s Armed Forces broke the backbone of the militants through military operation Zarb-i-Azb—killing thousands of insurgents including foreign terrorists, while, ISI and other law-enforcing agencies captured several terrorists in various regions of Pakistan. Taking note of the ground realities, the US and other Western countries have begun appreciating the capabilities of Pakistan Army and other security agencies. Nonetheless, the strikes by the drones which have continued in Pakistan’s tribal areas since 2004 have intensified during the Obama era, and are clear violation of international laws. Collateral damage caused by these strikes also ignites violent and retaliatory sentiment among victims and perpetuate extremist wave. We can conclude that the double standards and double game of the US-led entities have created unbridgeable trust deficit between Pakistan and the US.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.