Zubia Rubab Malik Trust deficit means lack of confidence. History suggests that trust deficit between Pakistan and US had real-world implications. Ironically, it had profound political, economic, social and cultural consequences that resulted in intermittent overwhelming of good faith efforts to achieve peace, prosperity and stability in the Southwest and Central Asian region. However, elite from both Pakistan and United States believe that good reciprocated faith would be the major stabilising factor in the region and overall peace in the world. My recent visit to America carried some special significance - an official invitation from the US Department of State for the prestigious International Visitors Exchange Programme. This programme has been pivotal in establishing good faith between the US and other countries. For Pakistan and the United States both, its importance is phenomenal in the current scenario - narrowing the trust deficit between counter-terror coalition partners. During my visit to the Capitol Hill and the State Department, I witnessed significant efforts from our American counterparts to achieve this important goal. The history of Pak-US relations has been inconsistent and complex - often dominated by distrust by people of either or both countries. Several hackneyed phrases have described the essence of our bilateral relations, but most importantly it exhibits a rollercoaster quality marked by alternating periods of normalcy and hostility. The high-water marks in this relationship were reached on occasions like Pakistans involvement in US-led defence pacts like CEATO and CENTO and subsequently during Afghan War against the Soviet invasion. The nadir was reached when USAs interests were waned and it abandoned Pakistan completely after the Soviet military pull-out from Afghanistan. The post 9/11 scenario has once again seen an upward ride that seems to be more sustained and mutually desired. A number of experts, both in US and Pakistan, have suggested that each country requires a more mature understanding of the other as an essential first step toward a true, long-term partnership. Indeed, for the first time in our history Washington and Islamabad have realised that we share common strategic interests. Unlike the past when Pakistan served American geo-strategic objectives faithfully during the Cold War; this is the time to think and act in tandem as coalition partners - particularly as counter-terror partners. Pakistan expects that the US would not repeat its past blunders of abandoning it at critical moments. Since 2005, I have strong conviction that it would never happen again when I had a chance to read a report written by a high-ranking international official who remarked to us that nothing could go wrong in this nuclear-armed country of roughly 170 million because the consequences would be too horrible to think about. I had always wondered in the past that the US administration was neither prepared for an unexpected turn of events, nor focused on Pakistans long-term stability and prosperity. My recent visit to the State Department helped me a long way to alleviate my concept that the US has not lived up to its own standards and values. I strongly felt that too often the US governments in the past could have responded in a more proactive, rather than reactive, manner in understanding the hearts and minds of the Pakistani people. In addition to Department of State, I had several visits and briefings to many governmental and non-governmental organisations that require separate scripts for details. In this article, I have confined myself to comment on the current and prospective scenarios in the mutual relations of the two countries. My visit to the US coincided with the havoc caused by devastating floods in Pakistan. Thats why our briefings in the State Department were to be pivoted around this catastrophe. The incumbent US administration was very swift in carrying out relief operations in Pakistans flood affected areas with all kinds of material help. The US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton and US Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke appeared very concerned and attentive in all kinds of relief and rehabilitation work for the Pakistani people affected by floods. However, all scheduled meetings and briefings about Pak-US relations were conducted in a very comprehensive manner. Similarly, another important subject on the mandatory agenda was Federalism - particularly in the context of American Federalism - was explored in immense profundity. I observed that the US and Pakistan have finally concluded that reinventing democracy in Pakistan would have important consequences in the 21st century. For its part, the US would no longer see Pakistan as a failed democracy and major aid recipient only, but as a country with important strategic interests that parallel its own. My visit to power corridors of Washington DC gave me an impression that the US would no longer be interested in keeping relations with us as a zero-sum game. I believe that one-time doctrine would never return back since it did not benefit either of us. I did ask the officials in Washington that can America emulate a civil nuclear deal as with India in case of Pakistan; and to my pleasant surprise I did not get any negative answer. Did I make the right call? Who knows? Time has arrived that bilateral relations between Pakistan and USA are based on trust, respect and commitment which are not time or government/regimen-bound. Our obligation is to convert deficit of trust into a surplus. Isnt it? Thats why I believe that Pakistan and the US are poised for a closer strategic relationship. I have drawn this conclusion from the top rank US officials of the Capitol Hill and there is every reason to believe in my conviction. After all narrowing the trust deficit between two most important counter-terror partners is the key to overall security and well being of the world. My next official visit to the US is due in few months time and I do anticipate more illuminated Pak-US relations by that time. Lets wait to see how the things unfold in the coming months. The writer is a member of the Punjab Assembly.