The Trust Issue

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had one of his rare press conferences to discuss the “trust gap” between India and Pakistan.  Ever since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, relations between the two countries have been strained but then again, relations have been strained since 1947. In the international structure, this makes sense. Both are nuclear powers, both have committed atrocities against the other, most of their history has been a showcase of upmanship that took centrestage to any other goals that could actually have been benefitial.

What the two countries need to work on are more tangible issues. Sure, the vein of trust runs through it all but by shifting the focus onto what can be done than on ethreal concepts, progress can be made. Take opening up borders for trade: Both countries stand to gain immensely from a common market. This could help tie each others interests together in such a fashion to make aggression a less palatable choice.

Yes, trust as a factor sounds great and is easy to sell to the masses but it is important to remember that trust isn’t built overnight, nor is it permanent. Of course India and Pakistan can improve on the current state of mutual suspicion and barely restrained aggression near the Line of Control (LoC), but there is too much history to naively think that this ever elusive “trust” is the panacea to resolving issues between the two nations.

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