Ever since 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan by the US, the world in Pakistan changed in many ways. Pakistan, US ally in WoT, the biggest sufferer in this expedition was just slapped with Congress passing a bill imposing more conditions on aid to Pakistan, especially linking it to Islamabad’s cooperation in war on terror and its efforts in curbing terrorists, including Haqqani network. Where should Pakistan go from here? For starters, Pakistan must strategize.

Pakistan should strategize to hasten the departure of Nato forces from her neighborhood. Ahmed Rashid, in his article,” The Way Out of Afghanistan”, states,” None of the attempts at rebuilding the Afghan state over the past nine years have really worked. What assurance is there that they will work by 2014?”

Secondly, Pakistan must expand on her trade base on two levels; regional and international. On the first level, she must strengthen friendly relations with nations of South West Asia Region. Entering into trading contracts and other “soft” interaction with Turkey, Sri Lanka (According to Sri-Lanka Customs statistics, value of total trade between both countries was $345 million in October, 2011 recording 4.5 percent average growth from $169 million in 2005), China, Iran.

On the second level, Pakistan must press not for aid, but for market access to western countries. US has recently suspended some $800 million in aid to Pakistan. This may be set off by China, our largest trading partner, particularly in infra structure and mining, worth almost $9 billion last year! However, Pakistan must increase trade with other western countries. Removing eggs from the USA’s basket just to place it in Chinese one, can make for uncomfortable sleeping partners! The policy of restricting her major economic interactions has given USA immense leverage to call the shots where Pakistan is concerned. There are lessons to be learnt here. Political independence and sovereignty is the outcome of economic independence. Is Pakistan ready to be finally politically independent?

MUHAMMAD JUNAID, Karachi,

December 27.