ISLAMABAD -  The United States is adopting a carrot and stick approach towards Pakistan as President Donald Trump has conditionlised friendship with Pakistan to Islamabad’s efforts to achieve Washington’s goals in the region, The Nation has learnt.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the US had made it clear to Pakistan that Washington would only help where Islamabad delivered for the US.

“The Trump Administration has bluntly told us that they will not pay us for our own [Pakistan’s] war against terror but will help where Pakistan can achieve their [US] goals. For example, peace in Afghanistan. [They mean] carrots when we work for them and sticks when we don’t fulfil their expectations,” a senior ministry official added.

The official said the Trump administration’s decision to conditionalise friendly ties with Pakistan would only create more misunderstandings. “Unless we trust each other, we cannot help each other achieve the common goals,” he explained.

Chief of the US Central Command General Joseph Votel visited Pakistan over the weekend and discussed the Pak-US ties with the civil and military leadership.

Beside meetings with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, General Votel visited the tribal belt where the Pakistan military is fighting the militants.

A US embassy statement, quoted General Votel as saying: “Military cooperation, and even stronger cooperation with Pakistan, is very important, and we deeply appreciate the hospitality and willingness to continue an honest and open relationship.”

The US general stressed that Pakistani soil should not be used to plan or conduct terrorist attacks against its neighbours, the US embassy said.

Trump’s administration is reviewing a proposal under which the US could possibly designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism unless it takes action against the top Taliban leaders and the Haqqani network.

India and Afghanistan have been instrumental in pushing Trump against Pakistan. Trump himself had demonstrated a tilt towards India even before his election. If the US goes on to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, Pakistan could face sanctions, end to economic assistance and a ban on arms sales.

Another official at the foreign ministry said General Votel had conveyed promises and warnings. “It is a carrot and stick policy. They want us to do more for rewards and be prepared for action if we do not come up to their expectations. He repeated the US policy that the US did not want to lose Pakistan,” he told The Nation.

The official said Pakistan had clearly told General Votel that it wanted to eliminate the terror network across Pakistan but Afghanistan and India were actively working inside Pakistan to destabilise the country.

“We have asked them to be as frank to India and Afghanistan as they were with Pakistan on the anti-terror issue. Terrorism after all is a global issue,” he added.

In the recent past the Pak-US ties have been tense. The tension started last year when the US refused to share the price of the F-16 jets that were to be sold to Pakistan and it reached its peak when Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in Balochistan in a US drone strike.

Pakistan protested against the extension of drone attacks but the US refused to budge an inch.

Washington has also showed its tilt towards India on international issues.

This month, Pentagon withheld $50 million to be paid under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) to Pakistan. US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said at a meeting of the Congress defence committees that he was unable to verify Pakistan’s efforts against the Haqqani group.

Islamabad said that Pakistan would not give up its right to CSF and convince the US to release the funds as soon as possible.

Defence Analyst Lt General Ghulam Mustafa (r) said General Votel’s visit was important as the US was reviewing the Afghan policy. “Washington is playing a game with Pakistan. They have allowed the ISIS to take roots [in] Afghanistan and now they are planning an operation against the ISIS,” he maintained.

General Mustafa said General Votel’s visit to Pakistan was a part of President Trump’s new policy. “The US is set to bring around 7,000 contractors in Afghanistan,” he added.

Former ambassador Ross Masood Hussain said sending contractors in Afghanistan would be a “foolish decision” of the US. “They should try to understand us [Pakistan]. We have been saying peace in Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan but Afghanistan should also stop playing in the hands of India,” he said.

Hussain said that the US was confused on ties with Pakistan and instability in Afghanistan. “The US should support Pakistan, if they want good results. Sidelining Pakistan will only benefit the terrorists,” he contended.