The United States’ (US) ambassador Alice Wells is on her visit to Pakistan. Her speech at a think tank event is suggestive of the white man’s burden still very much in place. She wants Pakistan to rethink its involvement with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – the flagship project of its One Belt One Road Initiative. However, Alice Wells’ comments on CPEC, intruding deep into Pakistani sovereign business, are unwelcome.

Additionally, her criticism of the CPEC project is coloured by the US opposition to China. Ms Wells, who has a BA from Stanford University and a joint MA from the University of California at Los Angeles/Rand Corporation, has suddenly emerged as an expert on economic and infrastructural development. Had she not criticized the project, we would not have known that she wore so many feathers on her hat.

Nevertheless, as it happens with people who take up a subject they have no expertise on, Ms Alice too sounded naïve while criticizing the CPEC projects. Apart from alleging that the projects were not transparent, she could not explain how these development projects were responsible for Pakistan’s growing debt burden. And as a result of her failure to elaborate on her arguments, it seemed that she was repeating her earlier remarks.

Later on, Ms Wells’ met Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Sohail Mahmood. The outcome was not much significant. Apart from repeating clichéd diplomatic jargon on the need for establishing “a strong trade and investment relationship” the Foreign Office statement tells us nothing more productive. She abstained from mentioning Kashmir and the on-going human rights abuses by the Indian troops.

Only recently, the two states witnessed a thaw in bilateral ties. The reason behind the US warming up towards Pakistan was nothing but its reliance on Islamabad to bring the Taliban to the dialogue table to end the 18-years-long conflict in Afghanistan. And Pakistan did that for the US not as a client state but as an equal and sovereign state.

Being a sovereign state, Pakistan does not need to take dictations from anyone on the economic or political choices it makes. Islamabad is better placed than any other country to do so. The US cannot expect to have such a stance on Pakistan while being silent about Kashmir and India. The bias is showing and is a hamper to better relations. So close to an Afghan peace deal, the US needs to be looking to work with Pakistan, not drive it away.