The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, while answering questions of lawmakers at a budget hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week, announced an inter-agency review of US funding and support to Pakistan. While this is the first explicit mention of Pakistan by the current administration, it in no way clears up what the policy towards the country will be. Hostile lawmakers have been present in the past and so have been military aid reductions, the real question here is what the top administration thinks.

That remains shrouded in mystery. For much of his term up till now, Donald Trump’s administration has been too busy battling internal crises to pay much attention to foreign policy . Even aspects of domestic policy which have an effect on foreign policy – such as the infamous ‘travel ban’ – have been mired in controversy. The upshot of all this is that apart from a grand show of strengthened relationship with Saudi Arabia – orchestrated by the Saudis themselves – and an irreverent visit to the European Union followed by withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement there is very little the presidency has done itself, leaving the running of foreign policy in the hands of career diplomats and military officials.

This is certainly not a bad thing, as most career officials are better versed in the global situation and invested in maintaining status qou policies. However, working as de facto authority in absence of leadership means that polices can be changed from the top at any time.

This is especially true for the current presidency, which has branded Qatar as a “sponsor of terrorism” and took credit for its isolation, and sold it arms worth millions weeks later while still maintaining the largest US military base in the Middle East in that country. All this comes at the statements of career diplomats and military officials, who have struggled to reconcile these seismic changes.

For now, Pakistan should pay attention to Rex Tillerson and Gen James Mattis – the Defence Secretary filling the “Commander-in-Chief” role in absentia. Their actions and stated policy will govern the relationship between the two countries, but it should be mindful that this can change at any time. With a visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US coming up, it is likely that this will happen sooner than later. The statements that Donald Trump makes after being prompted by the Indian Prime Minister will be much more revealing of how he plans to approach the Indo-Pak-Afghan region.