Azam Khalil You can always get the truth from an American statesman after he has turned seventy, or given up all hope of the presidency. Wendell Phillips Pakistan may have prepared its case better than the three previous discussions on strategic dialogue with the United States but not much is expected to be achieved due to a visible shift in the US foreign policy for this part of the world. The international community is aware of the fact that the US is cultivating its relations with India, hoping that one day Delhi will look after Washingtons strategic interests in this region. The Americans feel that it was essential that they had a strong relationship with the Indians so that their policy of containment of China can be achieved. The Americans may not have correctly read the Indian mindset which is that it will never put at stake its own security whatever its relations are with the Americans. At the same time, the Indians consider their relations to be fruitful with the American administration if they can achieve their goal of isolating Pakistan. In this backdrop, a high powered delegation from Pakistan has gone to the US to discuss with the Obama administration several issues including power generation, strengthening the capacity of Pakistani civil and armed forces, provision of modern equipment etc. They will also seek military funding that is considered an absolute necessity in the war against terror. The Pakistanis will also press the United States to release the Coalition Support Fund and to provide economic assistance that was promised under the controversial Kerry-Lugar Bill. The Americans, on their part, may insist that Pakistan proceed further in the war against terrorists who, according to them, were hiding in the remote mountainous areas of this country. However, it must be remembered that the American administration - past or present - has never been generous to Pakistan and they have always provided assistance, economic or military, that has barely helped Pakistan to sustain itself. For this, Pakistanis cannot blame anyone except themselves as the policies framed, in the past by successive governments, had hardly any semblance with the existing ground realities. Undoubtedly, this has continued till today mainly because our foreign ministry has never taken initiatives that could help Pakistan achieve its short- and long-term goals. One hopes that this time round since the country is actively engaged in fighting the terrorists, who routinely cross over into Pakistan from the areas in Afghanistan under US/NATO occupation, have a slightly better chance to negotiate a deal that will meet the basic requirements of this country. As a matter of fact, it is not difficult to judge the attitude of the American administration that has consistently refused to provide Pakistans security agencies with night-fighting equipment and even helicopters that could be used as an effective tool against the insurgents, who use hit and run tactics against Pakistans security agencies. The US administrations refusal to provide the required equipment to fight the 'global war seems to be the result of the pressure exerted on them by the Indians. Other than this, the Americans are also a party to an arrangement that keeps Pakistan on its tenterhooks. Therefore, to break away from this situation it is absolutely essential that Pakistan strikes an arrangement for its own security and economic well being with China and all those Islamic states that are willing to share some burden with Pakistan. That can in turn provide them with foolproof assurances for their national security as well. Further Pakistan must also seek increased economic relationship with countries like Iran and the Middle East, besides the European Union so that the present state of stagnancy that has enveloped its economy can be broken. Besides this, the best option is to increase productivity and at the same time keep the price of commodities low for the consumers. Though it is a difficult proposition but in case this is not done the country will continue to live in the present vicious circle which has not allowed it to prosper like it should have keeping in view the availability of natural resources in Pakistan. The Pakistani delegation visiting Washington should highlight two contentious issues that need to be taken up on top priority with the Americans. That is the minimum expectation of our people remains that the US administration will use its influence to pressurise the Indian leadership not only to resolve the Kashmir dispute, but also make it clear that stoppage of legitimate water flows to Pakistan could lead to the destabilisation of the entire region which will not be in the interest of anyone. Having said this, the Pakistani delegation should at least try to achieve American support in the energy sector, keeping in view, its acute shortage that has virtually brought this country on its knees. As far as Pakistans requirement for military hardware is concerned, the Pakistanis should make it clear to the US administration that if America fails to make available the equipment which will facilitate the Pakistani army to inflict swift and decisive blows on the terrorist camps, it (Pakistan) will take measures that will only ensure that the war against terrorists contains in the pockets where they are and thus the idea of wiping them out will never materialise. This can be a risky proposition for Pakistan but if peace can be negotiated through the jirga system then that should be a priority leaving the Americans to fight the hostility of the Taliban or the Al-Qaeda elements by themselves. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that the current US policy seems that while they will pull out from Iraq, they have no intentions to leave Afghanistan. There is another school of thought according to which the Americans will divide Afghanistan into two parts keeping the northern territory to themselves, while leaving the southern part as a lawless state that poses a problem not only to Pakistan but also to China. Whatever the final problem may be, the coming weeks will provide a good answer to the strategic dialogue that is being conducted between the American and the Pakistani officials. However some analysts, especially those who follow Pak-US relations, predict that the outcome will again depend as to what concessions Pakistan is willing to offer to the American administration. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: