If the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report coming out in the media is to be believed, then it is evident that the Pak-US love affair is on the decline. Though it states that there generally is a positive posture of the Obama administration towards Pakistan, serious questions remain. The attitude and conduct of the US Secretary of State during her recent tour of Pakistan also left many doubts and apprehensions. This is a vivid indication that a serious gulf exists between the two allies in the war on terror and that it is expanding. The report indicates that senior government officials at the Capitol Hill are divided over the future of bilateral relationship. The CRS report indicates that some representatives are calling for reprisal for Pakistans perceived misbehaviour. This American attitude is not something new or strange. Pakistan has had enough experience of it, since we fell in love with each other. Our previous friendships were with mutual consents. Yet, when the USA wanted to terminate them it did that unilaterally without any consideration for us, the other party. We became friends in the 1950s against the spread of Communism (read the USSR) on a very high note. Despite that high pitch relationship, our friend did not help us on the Kashmir issue in the UN. This friendship ended when India-Pakistan went to war with each other and Pakistan was put under sanctions; the friendship treaty went into hibernation. The treaty was revived when the USSR moved into Afghanistan. There was a flurry of diplomatic and non-diplomatic activity to convince Pakistan to join the US effort to drive out the Communists from Afghanistan. Pakistan willingly went along till the rude awakening when once again the friendship ended unilaterally. Why did Pakistan fall for such an unreliable friendship? In the early 1950s, we were a nascent state recovering from the shock of partition and fending for survival. The American friendship brought welcome economic and military aid. The re-establishment of that relationship during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan has many reasons. There was promise of military and economic aid; maybe there was a genuine desire to fight a jihad against a God-less system; and perhaps there were also personal ambitions of prosperity and wealth too. Pakistan failed to realise that the USA had a single aim of this relationship-expulsion of the USSR from Afghanistan. The day that aim was achieved the friendship ended abruptly. Pakistan became isolated again and was put under sanctions - this time to punish the 'friend for his efforts to acquire nuclear technology. The present friendly relations did not come about by mutual consent. It was obtained by the US under duress. This alliance on the war on terror came about with a threat of with us or against us, with US combat aircrafts hovering over Pakistan. General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has confessed this fact and capitulated; he perhaps had no other recourse open to him. Also, it was made clear that there will be sufficient rewards for the services rendered in the shape of economic and military aid. The Kerry-Lugar assistance programme is well known. In fact, the aid syndrome has become so sinister that the US Ambassador publicly said that Pakistan had to do the US biddings for the aid given. That pressure comes out in the shape of do more calls. Therefore, right from the beginning, this friendship or alliance has been uneven the US being the dominant partner and calling the shots; this friendship has been between two unequal partners. No wonder, the USA has been riding roughshod over us. The US had invaded Afghanistan to take out Osama bin Laden for allegedly masterminding the WTC attack and the Taliban for sheltering him. Now that they have 'killed Osama, the declared aim for the attack has been completed. The domestic US political environments also dictate that the American forces are being thinned out to gain political popularity for the incumbent President to run for the second term in office. The prolonged war has hurt the domestic economy immensely with debt soaring beyond acceptable limits. This indeed calls for an early and speedy end to war. In this context, the change in the mood at Washington DC indicates that a withdrawal strategy is being put in place. While the mopping up operations will continue, the thinning out process will be put in operating mode. The threats of reprisals and calls for aid delays are pressure ruses to force Pakistan to fight the rearguard action for the USA, while it prepares for and conducts a military withdrawal. The Americans want to proclaim that they have defeated the Islamic militants in Afghanistan before they withdraw. However, they have not yet overcome the Haqqani and Hikmatyar groups, who are still fighting. If these groups remain and the US leaves, its puppet cannot survive in Afghanistan. The US wants Pakistan to attack these groups in their alleged safe areas - the North Waziristan Agency (NWA). The accusations of protecting Mulla Umar and Al-Qaeda leadership, high level diplomatic and military parleys and now the subtle threats of reprisal and aid cuts or delays are all ruses to force Pakistan to go for these groups militarily. We should realise that the USA will finally move out and when it does we might find ourselves isolated once again. At this moment, unfortunately we are fully involved with the USA with all other avenues closed. Friendship with a power situated on the other side of the globe may have its merits, but friendship and mutual relationship with countries close at hand will be more beneficial economically and politically. We are very close to China; we should start moving closer to it, other countries in the region like Iran, Central Asian Republics and the Middle East, especially Turkey. Pakistan needs to open strong channels with Iran. With common borders, we should be able to forge stronger economic ties with it. Iran can provide us the much needed energy resources to our industry and we can export finished goods to them. The USA may not like this, but Pakistan needs to assess its own needs and from where those can be met. Turkey has embarked on a regional economic and diplomatic offensive and it is establishing strong ties in the Middle East and Central Asia. Pakistan should move closer to it as well as expand its relations with the Middle Eastern and Central Asian Republics. These efforts should aim at building communication links, interstate road and rail connections and energy pipelines through joint venture projects and we should work to enhance trade with these countries. Though not a small country, Pakistan should interest itself in the economic wellbeing of its citizens; we should not entertain grandiose political ambitions. If Pakistan can move into this direction, it will not feel isolated, once the US has left Afghanistan and the honeymoon has ended. Over 63 years our friendship with the USA has brought upon us more problems than benefits; let us for a change move into a different direction towards countries closer at hand and develop with them trade and commercial ties based on mutual respect for one others political, cultural, religious and social values. This will be more advantageous for Pakistan than living on doles and unreliable friendships. This diplomatic change in direction needs a strong and pragmatic leadership in Pakistan; can our produce a leadership that has the strength to make a major policy shift? n The writer is a retired Brigadier.