ON Saturday, Pakistan's civilian and military leaders had their first encounter with the new US administration which is poised to take over nine days hence. Vice President-elect Joe Biden who was on a visit to southwest Asia held meetings with President Zardari, PM Gilani, COAS Gen Kayani and ISI chief Lt Gen Pasha. Senator Biden termed Pakistan as "incredibly valued ally and partner" and assured Islamabad of the new administration's "real, long term and broad commitment". He also discussed the ongoing war on terror and the Mumbai attacks. Senator Biden called on both Pakistan and India to work together to bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice. Senator Biden has long been considered a strong supporter of democracy in Pakistan, which explains why he was conferred Hilal-e-Pakistan, the highest civil award of the country. He had accused the Bush administration of 'squandering moral currency' with empty rhetoric about democracy. As the powerful Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee he was an outstanding critic of the November 2007 emergency and the repressive measures that followed it. He advocated a new approach to Pakistan based on four points. These included tripling non-security aid to $1.5 billion annually for at least a decade to build schools, clinics and roads. He wanted Washington to condition security aid on performance in the war on terror and on developing democratic institutions and meeting good-governance norms. Finally he wanted the adminsration to engage the Pakistani people, not just their rulers. This according to him would have to be reflected in everything from improved public diplomacy and educational exchanges to high impact projects that actually change people's lives. This was needed, according to him, to stop the world's second-largest Muslim nation becoming a failed state in fundamentalist hands. Ir remains to be seen how much of his proposals Vice President-elect Biden succeeds in incorporating in the new US policy towards Pakistan, which is to be devised in months to come. While Pakistan has contributed more than any other country to the war on terror, and has consequently suffered heavy human and material losses, it contiues to be lectured to do more. Some of the promises made to it by its allies meanwhile remain unfulfilled. The ROZs bill is yet to be passed by the US Congress. Similarly the Biden-Lugar Bill authorising $7.5 billion over the next five fiscal years in non-military aid and containing vital provisions for strengthening civilian rule needs to be fast tracked. Washington must avoid interfering in Pakistan's internal affairs. The reported insistance on the part of Ambasador Patterson to reinstate sacked NSC Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani is widely seen as a move of the sort.