At the conclusion of his upcoming meeting with President Obama in Washington, Prime Minister Sharif can expect a lonely walk back to his waiting limousine. The President would not be bidding him farewell from the White House portico in a spirit of bonhomie, as he did to the Indian Prime Minister a month ago.

Irrespective of the recent faint realization of the necessity of cooperation over Afghanistan’s future by both the US and Pakistan, their bilateral relationship remains bedeviled by mutual mistrust at the core, and the two sides are increasingly motivated by differing security and strategic calculations.

Significantly, the Obama administration would conveniently brush aside the Prime Minister’s plea to review its policy of CIA operated drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Although the Prime Minister would duly remind the President that these strikes violate international law and result in excessive collateral damage besides further tarnishing US’ image in Pakistan, he would be unable to allay the US’ legitimate concerns about Pakistan’s flagging commitment to go after non-state actors, including the TTP, which the US considers as imminent threats to its security interests.

In view of the effectiveness of drones in targeting and eliminating al-Qaeda and its associated groups including the Afghan Taliban and the TTP, the Obama administration has dramatically expanded the CIA’s footprints in Pakistan and has long put up with the slender legal justifications for drone strikes, which are still supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans. It has in fact tried to establish its national security credentials at home on the back of the success of these strikes in the global fight against al-Qaeda.

From the standpoint of the US, these strikes have weakened al-Qaeda without remotely putting any American lives at risk. They have also successfully eliminated Afghan Taliban who pose a threat to US forces in Afghanistan and have decapitated the leadership of the TTP network, which besides targeting US personnel in Afghanistan and Pakistan is credibly linked to the attempted bombing of New York City’s Times Square by Faisal Shahzad in 2010. That the TTP has laid down cessation of drone strikes as a precondition for its talks with the government is in fact a telling measure of the success of these strikes in disrupting its activities.

Unless Pakistan provides an equally effective and viable alternative to these strikes and demonstrates a strong resolve to eliminating non-state actors abusing its sovereignty and threatening global security, the Obama administration will not consider parting with its weapon of choice in blunting the capabilities of al-Qaeda, Afghan Taliban and the TTP.

If anything, Pakistan’s present march of folly of pursuing talks with the TTP fortifies American justifications for these strikes. The state’s appeasement of the TTP adds heft to the American argument that Pakistan’s sovereignty is violable due to its unwillingness to eliminate non-state actors operating on its territory. In the current circumstances, the US feels that relying on Pakistan to unilaterally eliminate global terrorist threats emanating from its soil is no different from asking the fox to guard the hen house.

A fortnight ago, while reinforcing American intent in countering the TTP, the US forces conducted a risky military operation inside Afghanistan to pick up TTP’s second-in-command, Latif Mehsud. The extraordinary operation was meant to convey an unambiguous signal to Pakistan that the US would pursue the TTP until its effective destruction. Unsurprisingly therefore, beyond the drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan in December 2014, the US is planning to retain control of strategic bases in Afghanistan to enable it to continue its drone campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Given the Pakistani state’s ill-advised and meek embrace of the TTP in addition to the absence of a coherent and well-coordinated counterterrorism policy, the Prime Minister’s plea to the Obama administration to review its drone policy in Pakistan is destined to remain a nonstarter from the American perspective.

In Washington, the administration officials would merely remind him of Pakistan’s international commitments to maintaining global peace by eliminating non-state actors operating on its soil, before imploring him to stop droning about drones.

The writer is a lawyer and studied Political Science at Middlebury College.