The US has claimed to have killed another prominent terrorist, this time from the Haqqani network, in the Paktika province of Afghanistan. The Haqqani network has denied that Sirajuddin Khademi, a commander of the network, was even part of the group that was attacked, and hence is alive and well. The truth is likely to emerge in the next few days, but it is very likely that the statement on part of the Taliban is merely a means to show strength and not announce that the US has hit them where it hurts once more.

The last two drone strikes, send a very clear message to both the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan. Both sides of the border are now closed off to the militants, with or without Pakistan’s help. But the Haqqani network is now at the very top of the Afghan Taliban’s chain of command, after the appointment of Sirajudin Haqqani as Hibatullah Akhundzada’s right hand man. The US’ consistent attempts to clamp down on it is a means to steer the Taliban towards the table instead of the battlefield have failed. The debate involving the appointment of a new leader featured Sirajuddin as a prominent contender. How is the US expecting to side-line him now?

On the other hand, while the Obama Administration is quick to deny this, there can be no doubt that Pakistan is not as close to the US as it once was, and the thorn in this fractious relationship is still the Haqqani Network. If, for instance, the criteria of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) membership were to be applied in absolute terms, neither Pakistan nor India would qualify for a spot on the table. But the US is no longer viewing both countries with the same lens. India has made historical gains on all foreign policy matters, and the only thing standing in the way for India’s admittance in to the NSG is China. And while Pakistan can write as many letters as it wants, formal or informal, the US Congress has made its feelings about Pakistan clear. Not relenting on the sale of F-16s was the biggest statement it could have made in this regard.

Likening the Pathankot attack (on a military base) to the brutal Paris attack (civilian targets) and completely omitting any mention of the countless we face in Pakistan is only further evidence that our once ‘closest ally’ has chosen to take a shift from its old strategic policy. With China on Pakistan’s side, India and Afghanistan on the other and Iran somewhere in the middle, the loss of the US as an ally shifts the balance firmly towards India, especially considering it has a strong partnership with Russia as well. Like it or not, Pakistan must adjust, and find ways to bring all of its friends back to its side. The regional nexus remains key, and for this, and both Iran and Russia should become the focus of Pakistan’s reformulated foreign policy.