Islamabad: A trust deficit still haunts Pakistan`s ties with the US which is not entirely convinced of this country`s commitment to the war on terror, the media here said on Thursday, seeking sustained efforts to build on bilateral strategic dialogue to achieve goals like getting a civil nuclear deal.
Most Pakistani dailies described yesterday`s upgraded US-Pak strategic dialogue as the start of a new phase in bilateral relations, though editorials in some newspapers cautioned that both countries will have to put in more hard work to tackle persisting suspicions and build closer cooperation.
"There is still a trust deficit that has not been filled in completely. Washington is not entirely convinced that Pakistan is totally committed to the war against militancy," `The News` daily said in an editorial titled `Talking Points`.
"There is also the issue of possible terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons. No matter how far-fetched the scenario, it lives on in US minds. This will make the task of pushing any kind of deal involving nuclear technology through US Congress all the (more) harder," the editorial said.
Only when trust exists can progress be made and it appears Pakistan will need to concentrate on that vital first step while hoping for something more tangible from its mission in Washington, the editorial concluded.
The Daily Times, in its editorial, said: "Things looked even rosier when (US Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton emphasised on a long-term strategic relationship with Pakistan, a kind that resulted in a nuclear deal with India."
It contended that a "major change" had been observed in the US attitude towards Pakistan`s nuclear programme.
The US had "moved to allay concerns" and expressed trust in Pakistan`s capabilities to safeguard its nuclear installations, the editorial said.
However, the Daily Times cautioned that the Pakistan-US relationship had "remained on a bumpy track throughout its history, with perception gaining strength in Pakistan that the
US is a fair-weather friend.
"Noting that (Hillary) Clinton has warned that the dialogue cannot be expected to bring dividends "overnight," the newspaper said: "It will take sustained efforts and hard work to garner the desired results."
If the two sides agree in principle on the issues being discussed in the strategic dialogue, Pakistan will be in a "better position to tackle militancy on its soil, which is severely hampering progress and having an adverse impact on the entire region," the editorial pointed out.
Reports on the front pages of most dailies trumpeted the good beginning made in the strategic dialogue.
`US, Pakistan take bumpy road to better ties` read the headline in `The Frontier Post`, while the `Daily Times` headlined its report: "`New day` for US, Pakistan: Hillary."
The news reports referred to the pledges made by the two sides to broaden ties and also the US decision to provide USD 125 million for energy development in Pakistan.
However, `The Nation`, which has been very critical of US policies towards Pakistan, said in an editorial titled `Negative Starting Note` that the launch of the strategic dialogue "shows no promise of any major breakthrough for Pakistan vis-à-vis the US”.
"One can be an optimist and hope that the talks will yield some results this time round but in all probability promises will be made on some issues, including on nuclear cooperation, which will not see fruition - given not only the Obama administration`s own proclivities but also the US process which includes Congressional approvals," the editorial said.
It slammed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for adopting a "subservient tone" in his press statement with Hillary.
It said that Hillary had "declared that things and perceptions cannot alter in a day, but forgot that Pakistan has been in the US-led erroneous war on terror for almost a decade with debilitating results for the nation."
"While it is too early to pass a comprehensive judgement on the dialogue, the beginning gave little indication that Pakistan will be assertive and restructure which so far has been a client-state relationship with the US," the editorial concluded.