SHIREEN M MAZARI It could not have been a mere coincidence that both George Bush Jr and President Obama chose the military setting of West Point to proclaim their new militarist strategic doctrines - one, an extensive global doctrine of pre-emption and rejection of deterrence, the other relating to Afghanistan. The scope of the two statements reflects the differing ground realities the US faced at the particular times. In a way, the limited Obama context was a direct result of the fallout of the expansive Bush doctrine. And the continuity in the military-centric approach the US has adopted since 9/11 should not be ignored. Perhaps that is why Obama followed in Bush's footsteps and launched his Afghan policy statement from West Point. In essence, despite all the electoral promises, Obama's Afghan policy is a more intensified continuation of the Bush policy - focusing on military war fighting. The fact that it also talks of a withdrawal date and reduces the policy goals to more realistic goalposts is merely a reflection of the ground position that confronts the US and NATO today in Afghanistan. There is no scope for a military victory in the traditional sense or a grand reconstruction design for the Afghan state. Instead, a surge centring on 30,000 troops is hoped to allow the US a dignified exit in about 18 months or so - although the confusion that prevails within the US administration is becoming ever more evident with some backtracking on the withdrawal date while others giving contradictory statements on Bin Laden's whereabouts. For Pakistan, the time has come to do a realistic assessment of its options within the prevailing scenario and the Obama strategy. For there are viable options for Pakistan which it has not yet explored properly, but first it needs to realise what it confronts. A major part of Obama's strategy will be operationalised in the Pakistani context. The US has already declared that it cannot succeed in Afghanistan without Pakistan's support. So any failure will be laid squarely on Pakistan's doorstep, unless we can extricate ourselves from the flawed alliance with the US. Clearly, the US also wants to shift the centre of gravity of the war and thereby its international focus to Pakistan and away from the failures in Afghanistan. As happened in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, Pakistan is the new front which the US seeks to destabilise to achieve objectives which have little to do with 9/11 - but 9/11 provided the opportunity: the objectives being cutting Pakistan down to size and seizing control of its nuclear assets. The US does not wish to see any strong Muslim state so it is targeting both Pakistan and Iran. For Pakistan, there is now a dual threat of terrorism from within and destabilisation from outside. The two are linked because the external factor, based on the US and India, directly aggravates the internal problem of extremism and armed militancy. The destabilisation is already operational through the growing acts of terrorism spreading across Pakistan and becoming ever more sophisticated. It should be abundantly clear to the Establishment that they are the central target of the US and its strategic partner in this region, India. It is not merely a coincidence that the US removed its check posts along the Afghan side of the border with Pakistan just as the Pakistan military moved into South Waziristan. Nor is it merely a coincidence that Indian and US arms are flowing freely to the forces targeting Pakistani forces and civil society. The nature of the terror attacks has also qualitatively altered with a new focus on the military, its sensitive agencies especially the ISI and civil society at large. There is also a growing focus on Punjab which the US assumes, must be aroused for the military to do more of US bidding - traditional Indian analysis about Pakistan and its army While suicide bombers are still wreaking destruction across Pakistan, there are growing remote controlled attacks using highly incendiary explosives - which Pakistan does not possess and apparently the US does. The blast in Peshawar on November 13, targeting a military organisation and the blast in Moon Market, Lahore, were not simply rough IEDs but devices comprising sophisticated material which has puzzled the Pakistanis since it is nothing they possess - and again the finger tends to point to the US and India (since India is still only in the process of destroying its chemical weapons). As for targets - military and civil society, with the Rawalpindi mosque (in the heart of the residential area of the military) and the Qasim Bela Multan target providing both simultaneously. Pakistan should have no doubts now that there is a multiple track targeting to weaken, destabilise and take out the nuclear assets. For all this to happen, the military, specifically the army is being targeted at multiple levels. First, there is an effort to get it bogged down in fighting its own people in FATA - the constant "do more" mantra. Linked to it is the US-officially inspired media campaign to undermine the Pakistan military's credibility by a constant refrain of blaming "elements" with the military, especially the ISI, for supporting extremist militants - a bit farcical since the military is the terrorists in Pakistan's main target, especially since the military operations in Swat and FATA. Not that that has deterred the US media, especially of going on ad nauseum on this irrational tangent. But the "do more" mantra seems to have been embedded into Obama's new strategy which now wants Pakistan to fight the war in Afghanistan for the US The latest threat to Pakistan is that if the US feels it is not doing "more" (that indefinable word), the US itself will use "considerably more" force on the Pakistani side of the border. Does the Pakistani state really need more evidence about US intentions to attack Quetta while terrorism also expands in the Punjab? Link this to the November 25, 2009 Singh-Obama joint declaration where the two have committed to fighting "terrorism" jointly through a Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative, and one can see how Pakistan is being cornered. If we are clear about this threat framework, the options will also become clearer. A beginning has to be made with creating space between ourselves and the US and by devising a multi-level strategy to combat our own menace of terrorism. To put our own house in order we have to also qualitatively restructure our external cooperation with the US in this region. The first cannot happen without simultaneously moving on the second.