The United States Congress has finally passed the 2017 National Defence Authorisation Act, which includes $1.1 billion for reimbursing the nations supporting US military operations in Afghanistan.

The key word here is “reimbursement” – the “aid” package is actually the US paying the tab it has open in Pakistan, for taking our help in its military operations in the region. Yet, Pakistan has to do well on some conditions that the US has put forth for the money to be released. Out of the total amount, a chunk of $400 million is conditioned on a ‘good conduct’ certificate from the US Defence Secretary. It appears we have to do some homework to get the gold stars, and the master-servant relationship continues. The US Defence Secretary needs to certify that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are “significantly” disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani network in Pakistan. Why the Congress thinks this is otherwise is anyone’s guess. And if they have proof that the Pakistan Army is slacking on the job, then they need to be a little clear about this evidence, before painting Pakistan as a state that is sheltering terrorists.

Berating Pakistan and treating it like the black sheep of the region will only retard the process of ending terrorism. The workable model for foreign policy today is not aid tied to vocal humiliation, but of trade and development.

Turkey and China have made huge headway with Pakistan. Pak-Turk schools are being closed in Pakistan, with minimal protest, not because the Turkish government asked Pakistan to “do more or else”, but because of ongoing and upcoming Turkish investments, and frankly, because the Turkish government has never vocally criticised Pakistan. China, with its million-dollar promise under the CPEC, has been able to make sure that terrorism is not a threat to it, not from Uzbek groups or from the Uighur movement that could have found support from Pakistan and Afghan militant groups. Iran and Russia (and even India in its dealings with Afghanistan), are using similar polices of carrots rather than sticks. They have not had to deal with any problem of negative perceptions in Pakistan, and they do not see Pakistan as a security threat.

All the US has to do, to get its way in Pakistan, is cut down on the rhetoric in the Congress (that has more to do with pressures from anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan lobbies, and less to do with Pakistan not performing its duties) and offer something of clear mutual benefit. The mantra of “trade not aid” is not wrong here. The US needs to find global interests other than their vague idea of “national security” that extends from the actual American territory to all corners of the globe.