The keenly awaited outcome of the visit of Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to Washington, especially against the backdrop of soured relations between Pakistan and the US because of the blatant act of the murder of two Pakistani citizens by CIA contractor Raymond Davis, and the unending and reckless use of drones, can be summed up as a US ultimatum: 'If you want to get the aid you have been receiving or promised, do whatever we want you to do, and make no fuss about the violation of your sovereignty the way we want to commit, whether by intruding into your skies with killer machines or using your soil for covert operations that might even damage your interests. The State Departments reaffirmation of Washingtons commitment to wide-ranging strategic partnership, US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossmans expression of resolve to pursuing a long-term relationship and other such remarks made in the joint media appearance with Mr Bashir are just diplomatic clichs. The whole edifice of relationship stands on our compliance with US wishes. Islamabads pleas for restraint in the use of drones or the winding up of CIA conducted operations in its territory would not avail. Right from the time when Musharraf jumped on the anti-terrorism US bandwagon and, in return, Pakistan began receiving assurances of abiding ties of friendship, political observers and media have been warning that, sooner or later, the US would show its true colours. It would not hesitate to trample over Pakistans even core interests if, in its perception, they came into conflict with its strategic objectives. And much before its declared mission in Afghanistan came anywhere near the beginning of its end, it started making overtures to India that served to render it more arrogant towards Pakistan and less amenable to settling disputes like the core issue of Kashmir and, under US patronage, it fully exploited the US interpretation of what constituted terrorism. The present government went beyond Musharraf in toeing the American line. With the corrupt practices flourishing in its tenure, the economy went into a perpetual decline, surviving on IMF handouts, the American demands became more outlandish and pressing. Now, Islamabad faces a stark choice: either it bows before Washington and, in the process, harms its national interests even further, or stands up and refuses to obey. For a self-respecting nation, there is only one course open. It must stop all cooperation with the US in the so-called war on terror and gird up its loins, put an end to corrupt practices, adopt austerity as a principle of life, focus all its energies on making the best use of its plentiful resources natural, human and material and address the need to strengthen institutions in line with democratic traditions. In external relations, it should move closer to genuine friends. The leadership will see the entire nation rising up and successfully retrieving the situation, restoring its honour, prestige and respect and economy.