By and large, Hillary Clinton has a balanced approach towards Pakistan. Her comprehension of the countrys difficulties is fairly accurate. But, these days, Americas foreign policy is being run by a puppeteer mafia comprising Pentagon, Wall Street, the military-industrial compel and, above all, the re-election campaign managers. Former Defence Secretary Robert Gates once scornfully commented that the budget of American military bands is more than the State Departments budget. These days, therefore, Hillary hardly has a manoeuvring space to herself. No wonder, she began firing salvoes at Islamabad right from Kabul. But while in Pakistan she maintained a pragmatic facade, while the accompanying generals did the hard talk with their professional counterparts. Anyway, Hillarys trip to Islamabad was neither expected to lift the siege around the Pak-US relations, nor did it do so. But it did create an impression of a patchwork to display a semblance of re-railing the relationship. However, the prevalent American mindset points to the opposite direction. Her visit came as a part of posturing amidst an unusual American military build-up in the Middle East, and massing of the NATO/ISAF troops along Pakistans border opposite North Waziristan. Alongside, there had been relatively soft talks by Marc Grossman and Ambassador Cameron Munter. During the joint press conference, only the previous positions were restated with just one change that the reference to safe havens clubbed Afghanistan with Pakistan. More so, the recent APC and military leaderships briefing to Parliaments Defence Committee had already radiated a message of unanimity of opinion among the national leadership; this had restricted the extent to which Hillary could pressurise Pakistan, at least publicly. While the NATO/ISAF continue to look the other way, attacks on Pakistani soil by militants from Afghanistan are going on as part of a greater scheme to stretch out Pakistans security forces. The final showdown could come through false-flag operations involving a stage-managed nuclear related incident. Upping the ante against Iran may just be a smokescreen. The team that coaxed President Barack Obama to commit cardinal errors, in the context of Asia policy, is working overtime to lure him into a fatal error of confronting with Pakistan directly, short of elections. While democrats were in the process of selecting their candidate for the 2008 election, Republicans were clandestinely working to prop up Obama. They thought that this way the presidency would come back to them within four years; they were not off the mark in their calculation. The first manifestation of Obamas weak leadership was that he got mesmerised by the Bush era war team and retained it. That team pursued his war policy with a hangover of the Republican mindset. So, the Republicans are the direct beneficiaries of the mess that Obama has put himself into. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer, has a pathological anti-Pakistan bias; nevertheless, his recent views represent the current American mindset. Riedel was a senior advisor to three US Presidents on Middle East and South Asian issues. He also chaired an interagency review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009. In his op-ed piece, A new Pakistan policy: Containment, published by International Herald Tribune, on October 17, Riedel opined: America needs a new policy for dealing with Pakistan. First, we must recognise that the two countries strategic interests are in conflict, not in harmony, and will remain that way as long as Pakistans army controls the strategic policies........the generals who run Pakistan think time is on their side - that NATO is doomed to give up in Afghanistan........We must contain the Pakistan Armys ambition until civilian rule returns and Pakistanis set a new direction for their foreign policy. This read in the context of an earlier London-based Financial Times report about a memorandum handed over to President Obama through Admiral Mullen portraying a fragile civil-military relationship in Pakistan, whereby the civilian leadership is depicted as bargaining for its survival even at the cost of vital national interests, like dissolution of the S-Wing of the ISI, points towards a sinister campaign to create fissures among various tiers of national leadership. Even if such a memo was actually delivered, its leakage to media is part of a carefully orchestrated psychological warfare campaign. Riedel further states: The generals who run Pakistan have not abandoned their obsession with challenging India.......they have sidelined and intimidated civilian leaders elected in 2008. They seem to think that Pakistan is invulnerable because they control NATOs supply lines.......and have nuclear weapons....It is time to move to a policy of containment which would mean hostile relationship.......holding its army and its intelligence branches accountable....... But he forgot to comment whether America has given up its obsession with China The likes of Riedel are grinding their own axe, and doing the bidding of American industrial complex to expand the ongoing conflicts through mission creep and by triggering new ones. Pakistans Ambassador to Washington, Hussian Haqqani, has aptly identified the underlying rot that keeps the Pak-US relations in a flux; handling of two parallel narratives is the biggest challenge for Pak-US ties. Putting the jigsaw pieces together, Pakistan has a real military threat from America to counter; and the onus to defend rests with its armed forces. But the chances of an invasion of Pakistani land are remote. Sporadic fireworks are the more likely facet of operations to embarrass the military leadership. The mainstay of American operations would be the air component of its armed forces. Hence, Pakistan Air Force needs to harness all its resources to thwart airspace violations. Pakistans political leadership should continue to strive for bridging the gap between the Haqqanis and America, for a smooth transition between the two. It stands committed to an Afghan-led political process for stability and peace in the war-torn country. No other country than Pakistan has greater stakes in a stable and secure Afghanistan. However, it needs to improve its credibility by shedding the impression that it is fighting an American war. This could be done by detaching our Afghan policy from that of America. In the context of Afghanistan, Pakistan and America are certainly on a point of strategic divergence; nevertheless, common grounds should be explored in the areas of tactical convergence. The writer is a retired Air Commodore and former assistant chief of air staff of the Pakistan Air Force. At present, he is a member of the visiting faculty at the PAF Air War College, Naval War College and Quaid-i-Azam University.