The visit to the USA by President Asif Zardari is being given the traditional significance, of whether a Pakistani president can win over an American president, but the USA seems to see the visit as an extension of the AfPak strategy, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai also in town, to make the visit almost, but not quite, tripartite. However, President Karzai's being there made it almost certain that the visit would have a tripartite significance, and President Zardari and his team had to adjust to the fact that the Obama administration, unlike previous Democratic administrations, sees Pakistan primarily as a leading player, along with Afghanistan, in the War on Terror, not as a country with problems of its own. It is also of some significance that President Zardari took office first, while President Obama was elected that year, and took office at the beginning of this year, while President Karzai is coming to the end of his first term, and is running again this year. In that way, only Afghanistan is again entering a presidential election cycle, and thus both Presidents Obama and Zardari are under no obligation to play to the crowd. However, President Karzai is, and President Obama had that in mind. That was probably why the Afghan transit arrangement was also extended to the Indian trade via Lahore. This was President Zardari's first meeting with President Obama, though not his first meeting with a US president. He met President Bush last year, on the sidelines of the UN Summit, as president, and earlier met President Bush's father, when he had been president, when Zardari had accompanied his wife Benazir Bhutto, then prime minister, when she visited the USA. While in exile, Zardari also lived for a while in New York, while he was getting medical treatment. However, the US visit has been considered key by Pakistani political leaders ever since Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan's visit. Apart from Zardari and Benazir, Nawaz Sharif got President Clinton to announce peace in Kargil, while there were visits by Muhammad Khan Junejo as well as Ziaul Haq, before Benazir's father Zulfikar Ali made his visit. One of the most important agenda items for Pakistan was the Kerry-Lugar Bill, which proposes aid of $7.5 billion over five years at $1.5 billion a year. Though Pakistan has made much noise about its aim of persuading the USA to invest in Pakistan, it presumably knows that the ongoing economic crisis has not left American corporations in the shape to make any new investments, let alone in Pakistan, which is so clearly under extremist threat. Therefore, the only money that Islamabad's official circles really count are cash grants, as now to be provided by the Americans. However, what has caused some consternation in Pakistani official circles is the American intention of putting strings on the money. The first string is to do with the actual spending of the money, with the accounting restraints placed intended to make sure that the money goes for the aid intended. Previous US aid, and not just to Pakistan, was intended, under an unspoken arrangement, to be embezzled, and go to 'agents of influence'. During the Afghan Jihad of the Zia era, this is what happened to the American money that came in, and it is expected by Pakistani officialdom that US money will come in on the same terms. Where the first string strikes at the fundamental reason for seeking American largesse, the second strikes at the ideological underpinnings of the relationship. The USA has put Pakistan on its best behaviour with respect to India, failing which the USA may refuse to provide Pakistan any more money. This does not take into account the fact that Pakistan has not placed itself into American hands either because it admired the American way of life or because it sees no alternative, but did so more than 50 years go, at the time of its signing the Baghdad Pact, because it would receive arms against India, which all other countries had refused to supply. Pakistan has had to go nuclear because of India, which brings up another contentious US-Pakistan issue, the country's nuclear arms. The USA has no reasons to promote India other than its being a very large market for its corporations, its willingness to be used as a US pawn against China, and a general US fascination at the moment with things Indian. Yet it resents Pakistan having become a nuclear power in a way it does not mind India's having become one, and it has been with gusto that the American press has taken up the Indian canard of Pakistan's nuclear arms being in unsafe hands. This has virtually become an American charge, as their press built an atmosphere of unsafe states, about both Pakistan and Afghanistan. For both countries, their presidents made convenient stand-ins, with 'official' America later having to talk up Zardari, who for a while was portrayed as losing what little control he had in Islamabad to the militants. He will also have had some explaining to do, at the wrong time, of the Swat peace deal, which has also broken down, as have previous deals with militants. This has probably been pointed out to him, and his only explanation is that the deal was actually struck with the ANP-led provincial government, and he only promulgated the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation after Parliament passed it. The centrepiece of the tripartite meeting was President Obama's further dinning of his new AfPak strategy into Zardari's and Karzai's ears, even after his telephone calls to both when the strategic review was completed in March to explain the new strategy. However, the AfPak strategy is important enough for President Obama to reiterate, and also is apparently the new direction that corporate America is going to follow. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton witnessed the signing of the agreement on the Afghan transit trade, she noted that this was an economic opportunity. In short, the Pakistani hopes of hard cash flowing in were dashed, except for those going to Afghanistan, to set-up factories for the Indian market. The USA hopes thus to provide economic opportunities, and if it views the region as a unity, then it must give a prominent and central place to India. This is something that has apparently been accepted by the present government. However, it apparently does not know that Afghanistan (under Karzai, or any other American nominee) and India are two jaws of the nutcracker which sees Pakistan as the nut. While Zardari thinks that he has furthered his goals with this visit, it is really the USA which has done so, not just in Pakistan, but in the whole region.