Proverbially, curiosity killed the cat, and in realpolitik arrogance has been instrumental in dismantling all superpowers preceding the USA. Arrogance begets mission creep which leads to overstretching of resources. Presently, Americans are living beyond their military means. Such effort generation is not sustainable. Already there are signs of a slow economic meltdown, which are being acknowledged in private, but publicly a denial posture is being maintained. As regards curiosity, Americans have a fondness for micro-managing the internal affairs of their allied states. A cardinal error has all along been to co-opt native leadership and assume that the public opinion would follow. The Kerry-Lugar Bill could have accrued the Americans a lot of goodwill provided it was not torpedoed by the curiosity-oriented stipulations aimed at micro-managing Pakistans internal affairs. However, thanks to the bitter experiences of colonisation era of yesteryear, the public of this region keeps a special vigil on proliferation patterns of foreign influence. People zealously guard against impingements of their national prestige. Hence, it does not take very long for extremely popular leaders to become highly unpopular when it comes to handling (read mishandling) of foreign affairs. The popular perception is that the Americans are a part of the problems of this region, which they profess to solve, and therefore this region would be much better without them. As a cumulative impact of curiosity and arrogance, the Americans are continuously loosing their friends in Asia and their influence is shrinking since World War II. Korea, Vietnam and Iran are some of the examples where, in the past, the general public declined to kow-tow to American policies, in defiance to their pliant leadership. Recent public reaction to Kerry-Lugar Bill in Pakistan is yet another wake up call. The American administration needs to realise that to win the 'Global War on Terror (GWOT), Pakistani and Afghan people are their last hope in the region; presently there is an unprecedented 'surge of anti-America sentiment amongst the people from both countries. Hostile, but natural response to KLB, by the people of Pakistan is a major setback for American policymakers, as indeed for their native cohorts. Even customary moral obligations regarding sanctity of trust amongst the allies and ensuring maintenance of compatible protocol levels for rules of business were conveniently thrown out of the window while drafting the bill. As a fallout, the already eroding public goodwill towards America has hit a new low. The Americans are in an unenviable position. Over eight years of military action in Afghanistan has produced only a failed occupation. And with the present military committalls, the US is clearly overstretched and cannot undertake any fresh military venture. Iran and North Korea are gleefully defiant. And Iraq is stable as long as the occupation forces continue to encamp; soon after the puppet regime may fall apart. The war against Al-Qaeda is widely perceived to be leading towards a dead end. On diplomatic front, non-proliferation drive is a non-starter. There is a perception that America wants to disarm others while retaining its arsenal. Efforts to strengthen the existing discredited non-proliferation regimes to perpetuate the divide of nuclear apartheid have not gone down well with the important stakeholders. Hence, universal acceptance is not likely to come by. Any bulldozed piecemeal solution without addressing the affiliated and interlocking concerns could result in strengthening clandestine proliferation networks. Furthermore, elections in Afghanistan have created more problems than it was envisaged to solve. The worldwide perception of farce polling has eroded the American credibility as an honest broker of peace. By pre-election alignment with the Karzai regime and covert participation in wheeling and dealing for his re-election, the Americans have mouse-trapped themselves. The end result is likely to be a weak government mired in legitimacy crisis, and unable to deliver in vital domains like governance. As if these woes were not enough, strategic space for initiative-taking by President Barack Obama stands severely curtailed due to the premature Nobel Peace Prize. Moreover, the absurdity of indecent haste has reduced the credibility of the award itself. Probably it is for the first time that an award in the domain of peace has been conferred on the basis of euphoria of utopian wishes that the recipient of the award has been tossing around. However, the award would have held a semblance of relevance and merit if it was doled out towards the end of second presidential term, and after measuring concrete achievements. Now the baggage of expectations that such a prestigious award entails, Obama will soon find himself closeted in terms of making policy choices. He may parry difficult situations, or go slow when speed of action is vital. It is under this backdrop, that a major strategy review on Afghanistan, and as a corollary on Pakistan, is in final stages. If at all there was any doubt that the application of military instrument is not likely to bring a lasting solution to Afghanistan in a foreseeable timeframe, General Stanley McChrystals 'Initial Assessment has dispelled it well and square. Presumably, search for a scapegoat to justify the failure to achieve the desired military objectives is on fast track. Pakistan appears to top the short-listing for this honour as well. It is in this context that the letter and spirit of the bill focuses to discredit the commitment of the Government of Pakistan towards GWOT. One can observe a clearly discernable incremental approach by the American administration to tighten the screws around the already suffocating strategic straitjacket imposed on Pakistan. Unfortunately, in the conduct of GWOT, so far the emphasis has only been on head hunting. Though sheer application of power has resulted in casualties and capture of the fighters belonging to various extremist outfits, notwithstanding disproportionate collateral losses, it has not been able to subdue the resistance. Extremists now control more area than ever before, and their number is larger than ever before. Abject poverty and illiteracy prevailing in the troubled regions is an incubator for extremists. Much awaited work on economic uplift of the tribal areas is not yet in sight. A coherent plan for providing modern education facilities on subsidised rates as an alternative to religious seminaries is yet to see the daylight. Emergent perception has it that the Americans have a stake in the perpetual instability of Afghanistan to justify their heavy military presence. If this perception is faulty, then a lot remains to be done, on non-military fronts, for sustainable eradication of extremism. Pakistan squeezing would not bring any dividends; it will only curtail American leverage. Allies must work in an atmosphere of trust and harmony for a win-win finale. All the options for Afghanistan need Pakistans endorsement, as indeed its active participation. The eyewash of attaching a Congressional explanatory appendage to KLB is not enough. There is a need to put in place a credible damage reduction mechanism to curtail the mounting trust deficit. Let it not be said that the pincer attack by arrogance and curiosity took its toll on America as well The writer is a retired air officer, PAF. Email: