Deal or no deal

On one hand, a claim is being made in the media that US is about to sign a deal over using of Pakistani air space while Pakistan has denied any such development. The latter has only conceded that Pakistan and the US have longstanding cooperation on regional security and counterterrorism and the two sides remained engaged in regular consultations. After the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the US desperately needs the availability of an air corridor to continue its military operations. They need Pakistan’s support for continuing the surveillance operations but the US has reservations against Pakistan for its alleged involvement in supporting the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network. Pakistan’s refusal to fight a US war in Afghanistan has already irked the former.

Historically, trust deficit has always been the main feature of the transactional relationship between Pakistan and the US. Hidden and not-so-concealed feelings of betrayal have always been the hallmark of this love-hate relationship over the years. Though successive Pakistani leaderships have always been pro-west, yet they have never been able to win complete trust of the US. Main reason for the trust deficit is the duality of policies of Pakistan in the past, regarding the treatment of the Afghan Taliban. The other factor behind this love-hate relationship is the strategic importance of Pakistan in the region. The US is still dependent on Pakistan’s political, diplomatic and military help to deal with the situation in Afghanistan post-withdrawal.

Both states depend on each other in areas related to their national interests. The US is in dire need of Pakistan’s political, diplomatic and military help to deal with the terror groups posing a serious threat to the region’s stability. Presently, the striking of a deal with the US remains uncertain. For Pakistan, it will be difficult to refuse the US due to its poor economic conditions and reliability on US aid. Meanwhile the latter remains susceptible about Pakistan’s role in war against terror and its cooperation in forcing the Afghan Taliban to accept US demands post withdrawal. Unless Pakistan announces and implements a clear strategy regarding its dealings with the Afghan Taliban, the trust gap will not be bridged rather it could lead to more complications. Hopefully, both states will find out a common ground for bringing peace in the region.