So finally, Osama is officially dead, declared so by the President of the United States and buried under sea within hours of being shot in the head by American commandoes in Abbottabad. As the Americans declare victory and celebrate on the streets, in Pakistan the citizens are left groping for answers to the many questions that have been thrown up by the story of his death, how it came about and its timing. Was the operation choreographed to pave the way for the future direction of American strategy in the region? Has it opened the eyes of our leadership that was not even taken into confidence by our so-called ally before launching it? Do they have the vision and courage to extract Pakistan from the quicksand of its friendship with the fast declining sole superpower? There are many who question the killing of Osama in Abbottabad. They are unwilling to buy the story just because the American President broke it. According to them, President Obama is a puppet in the shady hands of the CIA, a showpiece that delivers articulate speeches prepared by the invisible government and carrying forth their objectives and nefarious grand schemes. They remind us of his speech declaring the CIA operative Raymond Davis as a diplomat, and dwell upon a long history of misinformation used by the American state to deceive not only people all over the world but also its own citizens, to start unwarranted wars and to end losing battles in concocted victory. They say Osama had been dead for years, and was kept alive so that the drama of his killing could be used more gainfully. The mystery surrounding the actual operation, the hasty disposal of his dead body and reluctance to release any photographs of the dead terrorist number one, give them more reason to doubt the American version of the patchy story. Regardless of whether Osama was killed last week in Abbottabad or at an earlier date somewhere else, the announcement by the United States has serious repercussions for Pakistan, especially when viewed in the context of the troubled Pak-US relations and the statements by senior US officials that have followed. The CIA Chief has said that the Pakistani authorities were not informed because that could have led to Osama's escape. The ISI is being billed as either incompetent or in league with the terrorists. Those who were keen to label Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism say they have been vindicated. The presence of Osama in Abbottabad creates a justification for unilateral military action by the United States in the Pakistani territory, they assert. Congressmen in the US are using the event to raise questions about financial assistance to Pakistan. This attack and vilification of Pakistan is, of course, accompanied by other statements from other senior American officials and its NATO allies; miserly appreciation of Pakistan's role in combating terrorism, its indispensability for winning the war in Afghanistan, the need for continuing to work with Pakistan and to improve the level of cooperation with it. That is a standard operating procedure when it comes to the United States and its allies, the good cop-bad cop combine that collaborates to push other states in a direction that is desired. The bad cops are giving the real message while the good cops are there only to assuage any hurt feelings on part of the bullied ally. Obviously, the United States is bracing to tighten the screws on Pakistan and push it into falling in line with the US objectives. The question is: Who is watching Pakistan's interests? Not the Pakistan government. It lived up to its reputation as a certified American slave by welcoming the operation, a commando action by a foreign country conducted on our soil without so much as informing us. Once the military leadership showed its displeasure and took a strong stand, one heard whimpers of protest from the Prime Minister and the Foreign Office. In fact, attracting quite a bit of criticism by the politically correct pundits, the military leadership has been at the forefront of trying to create room in the American strategy to accommodate Pakistan's concerns, a job to be actually performed by the government. However, it is obvious that no matter how hard they try to have a say in the Afghanistan endgame, the Americans are determined not to change the script they've prepared for the region, a script in which Pakistan plays the role of a joker that dies in the end. Apparently, the killing of Osama marks the beginning of the next episode, a dangerous climactic episode. Surely, this is no time to conduct business as usual. Once again, for a beleaguered Pakistan, China has been the source of crucial support. It has upheld the role of Pakistan in combating terrorism without any ifs and buts and condemned the violation of its sovereignty. It has again talked about working with Pakistan to sort out the mess in the region that gets messier with every passing day of American occupation of Afghanistan. More and more commentators are talking about the usefulness of developing a strategic partnership with China that goes deeper than mere rhetorical references to the bonds of friendship that we've been singing about for years. It is time to work closely with each other on regional and global issues. It is true that China is Pakistan's time-tested friend, but there is no point in looking at the potential strategic partnership between the two countries in purely emotive terms. The most important aspect of our relationship is that we both need each other, perhaps much more than we need the United States that is actually creating problems for both. Those who argue for carrying on our sick relationship with the United States take the plea that the two countries need each other and cannot do without each other. The difference between a strategic relationship with either the United States or China is obvious. In the case of United States, there is no mutuality of interest, there is much distrust and the partnership has led to an increase in violence and extremism in the region. By partnering with China, with whom there is a history of trust and a convergence of interests, the partnership could be real and aimed at creating peace in our neighbourhood. The writer is a freelance columnist.