Recently, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on NBC News stated: And theyve got to know that were not going to give out a blank cheque until they show that this is a two-way relationship, when asked about the suspension of $800 million of military aid to Pakistan, that included $300 million out of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) for expenditure already incurred in war on terror. Remaining $500 million caters for rifles, ammunition, body armour, helicopter spares and bomb disposal equipment mostly for Pakistans Frontier Corps. Which blank cheque was Panetta referring to? Is he not aware that even by conservative estimates Pakistans economy has suffered losses of almost $70 to $80 billion? A recent study by the Islamabad based think tank, South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI), reveals that the countrys economic losses due to the Afghan war have increased from $2.72 billion in 2001 to over $17 billion in 2011. SASSI further adds, whereas Pakistan claimed $13.30 billion from the US government over last 10 years, around $11 billion were accepted by it for reimbursement, but only $8.6 billion transferred to Pakistan so far, with the military receiving only $1.63 billion. The remaining, around $6 billion plus, was utilised by the government for budgetary support. The US cannot delay or withhold the CSF payments or brandish military aid, as a weapon of influence against Pakistan. A similar short-sighted approach has proved to be counterproductive for it in the past and its continuation would only complicate the Pak-US efforts to restore the trust between the two so-called 'allies. With Washington clearly not abiding by its obligations, it would be foolish on their part to expect Islamabad to maintain a two-way relationship and deliver beyond its capabilities by following the US dictates. Should America continue to blackmail and delay the payments, which remain Pakistans legitimate right, this could adversely affect American interests in the region. Furthermore, should the US not withdraw its blank cheque to anti-Pakistan forces, like the Tehrik-i-Taliban, to launch crossborder attacks from the Afghan soil against Pakistans security forces and civilian infrastructure, it may be forced to finally cash its strategic assets cheque to demonstrate a real 'two-way relationship. In a total rejection of US arm-twisting tactics, the 140th Corps Commanders Conference held on July 12 reiterated the resolve to fight terrorism in our own national interest, using our own resources, giving the Americans a clear message that its military assistance was indeed dispensable. So, if the US is not prepared to give Pakistan a blank cheque, can Islamabad afford to allow Washington a similar one? Its military trainers were expelled when they exceeded their limits and got involved in activities that ran counter to Pakistans security interests. Then why should the US insist for the return of its military trainers when Pakistan no longer requires their services? Which international law allows blatant violation of a countrys sovereignty like the never-ending drone attacks, US Special Forces unilateral strike in Abbottabad and the continued occupation of Shamsi Airbase? While both Musharraf and Zardari governments must be held responsible for granting uncontrolled visas that led to an influx of CIA personnel, this facility was dangerously misused resulting in the establishment of a countrywide covert intelligence network by the spy agents that lured local civilians and retired military men at handsome salaries. By early 2010, this parallel intelligence network had become strong enough to pose a challenge to Pakistans ISI by influencing terror acts through friendly extremist organisations. It also sponsored a fake Hepatitis B vaccine drive in Abbottabad through their locally recruited Pakistani doctor and his team to gain access to Osama familys compound. This manifests the degree of penetration and the boldness with which CIA operatives roam around unchallenged. Equally concerning was the boldness with which certain elements in the intelligentsia/media, resorted to 'destructive criticism of the army and ISI post-Abbottabad/Mehran, that seemed to reinforce the CIA/foreign media propaganda against our security institutions. While many 'respectable faces exposed themselves in the process, their confidence indicated that they enjoyed strong foreign backing and support, perhaps even financial. Like the Abbottabad doctor, whether such Pakistani citizens would seek greener pastures abroad in future, or be held accountable for disloyalty to the state, remains to be seen. The open cheque to CIA has now been withdrawn with visas clearance/scrutiny being tightened and visas control reverting to Foreign Office and ISI, as was practiced in the past. Although the latest news about the granting of visas to 80 CIA operatives is not a welcome development, yet ISI must ensure their monitoring and not allow them to reassemble their network or conduct operations independently. With Panetta transferred from CIA to Defence Department and General Pertraeus moving to CIA, Pakistan should be ready to face more threats of 'blank cheques. Hopefully, our army will hold its ground against this coercive American strategy. To Panettas threat, the Pakistani response should be a loud and clear, that is, no blank cheque to the US, too. n The writer is a retired brigadier and defence analyst