As the US Senate delegation led by John McCain, made its way back home after a high-profile visit, there are many questions regarding the real outcome of this meeting. After meeting with army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif and Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Senator McCain addressed the media and said, “We look forward to closer relations and resolving the differences we have,” and termed the Zarb-e-Azb operation “impressive”. While the perfunctory message fulfilled diplomatic obligations, is the US really trying to “resolve” any differences? Current events seem to indicate otherwise.

The downturn in US-Pakistan relations was enhanced when Congressional opposition to the sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan led to the US Congress finally allowing the sale but not helping with the funding as earlier promised. This has been directly related to the increasing terrorist attacks in Afghanistan by the Haqqani network and Pakistan’s inability to take stricter action against them. While Islamabad has rejected the not-so-generous offer to pay $700 million from its own resources for the jets, the US has not made any move to really acquiesce their affronted “ally” and has held its ground on the issue as Senator McCain reiterated in his visit.

When the US House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorisation Act 2017 on May 17, that included restrictions on military aid for Pakistan, it blocked $430 million under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF), unless Pakistan took action against the Haqqani network. The increasing anti-Pakistan sentiment in the Congress is a cause of concern for the Government of Pakistan especially in the wake of the drone strike against Mullah Mansour that crossed many red lines and caused a furor within lawmakers in Pakistan as well. President Obama has made matters worse by threatening more such strikes if necessary, further alienating the Pakistani counterparts.

Seeing that the new Democratic administration “will continue to push for an Afghan-led peace process and press Pakistan to deny all terrorists sanctuary on its soil,” according to the Democratic Party’s election manifesto released this weekend, if Hillary Clinton succeeds Obama, this downturn in relations might remain as it is for a while. Pakistan will only be used as a ‘strategic partner’ instead of an ‘ally’. Were McCain and co. only here to remind us of this reality? The meeting was for US purposes, to get Pakistan onboard for its designs in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s own concerns are not a priority for the US and will not be for the foreseeable future.