President Obama's surprise visit to Kabul, yesterday on the eve of Osama Bin Laden's death anniversary, bought news of a strategic agreement signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. To the Taliban, a signal was thus relayed, that in the aftermath of the US pull-out, the field would not be left open for them and that the US would continue its backing of the Kabul regime it installed. Clearly, such an agreement will make the Taliban most uncomfortable. The historic aversion to foreign domination or control, that is inherent in the Afghans, seems only to be watered down in the persona of the President. For the rest of the many tribes and political groups in Afghanistan, an agreement with even a superpower, will not dim their appetite for throwing off any shackles they feel they may have acquired in the last ten years, after the invasion of their country. The withdrawal of combat forces, leaving behind ‘advisers’ who could come to the aid of the Afghan security forces in case of need, as the agreement envisages, would be deeply resented. The strategic partnership would, therefore, keep the fires of insurgency alive, taking the dream of peace and reconstruction of the devastated land farther from realisation. The Taliban’s recent coordinated attack at 10 sensitive spots, including Parliament, is enough to make the claim of having tamed the menace of militancy nothing but self-deception.

The elements, hostile to the presence of foreign troops on their soil, and that include not only Pashtuns, but also a large segment of other ethnic groups brought up in the culture of independence, are only waiting in the wings for the drawdown to take place. Some expectation arose of President Obama also paying a visit to Islamabad, since he was in the neighbourhood. However, no such visit materialised. Disappointing, given the fact that Pakistan's relations with the US are hardly at their calmest. In such a period, when Pakistan's parliament has presented unanimous recommendations for relations with the US to be structured according to the will of the people, Nato supplies are suspended and resentment of the US for being overly-gratifying to Pakistan's neighbours to the East and the West are at their highest, President Obama's presence was perhaps more needed in Islamabad than Kabul.

For an ally who has been asked time and again to do more, lost $70 billion in the war that the US drew it into, sacrificed over 40,000 to the cause, suffered instability and mayhem in the resulting aftermath - it is a pity that President Obama and his team continue to so dedicatedly ignore Pakistan and its legitimate expectations of the US. In such a case, will the US continue to be surprised at why Pakistan is no longer in love with it?