The past few months have seen a topsy-turvy response from the US over its relationship with Pakistan from various quarters. The primary subject of the strategic dialogue, which began on Monday, is likely to become the nuclear issue, with India’s inclusion into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the reproach to Pakistan over its nuclear arsenal coming to center-stage at the outset. Pakistan is likely to reassert the infallibility of its security mechanisms and the US will accept this, but only until the Nuclear Security Summit. Nawaz Sharif is also likely to be grilled over this issue in the summit next month, after the international community at large will take this up, and based on previous examples, his response will be uninspiring.

The opening statement from Pakistan at the start of the dialogue left much to be desired. It was essentially a reiteration of Pakistan’s old stance on the progress made in the fight against militancy. However, the counter-narrative strategy that Aziz mentioned to commence the discussion between Pakistan and the US is virtually non-existent for all intents and purposes. The government has not made sufficient attempts to counter extremist ideology in the country, financial channels are still accessible, if attacks are still being carried out and merely implementing the ban on loudspeakers is barely scratching the surface in terms of controlling ideology. Propaganda material of factions such as IS still surface every now and then, and hence the voice of extremism has not been clamped down completely.

Pakistan needs to realise that the US is not looking to India and Pakistan as equal players in terms of nuclear power, and this is not going to change in spite of the protestations issued from this side. India is looking to cement its relationship with the US by offering it more than what Pakistan can; trading opportunities and a mutually beneficial partnership with the neighbour of a rival (China). Pakistan on the other hand, has only explored its alliance with the US over military matters, even though a greater trade relationship would be more beneficial at the domestic level. Terrorism is an area that the US must cooperate with Pakistan over, because of the Afghan-US nexus. But the relationship beyond that is static, and does not offer any promise to the US. The Nawaz government must deviate from the traditional path of relying on US for military aid by using regional instability as a bargaining chip if it wants to see a change in the responses coming in from the west. It must look to offer more, because after peace is established in Afghanistan, the US will look at this one-sided relationship as a liability.