Shireen M Mazari Watching the events of recent weeks an interesting, and could-be disturbing question comes to mind in terms of our foreign policy and strategies: Are we really stupid and mesmerised by the US or are we trying to be too clever by far? Or, as an appendage to the question: are the vested interests of the present rulers too deeply tied in to continuing US goodwill for them to make the changes in policy required to move us out of our present predicament - at least in terms of foreign relations? Taking the last sub-question first, it goes without saying that a dispensation premised on the NRO - brokered by the US - certainly has too close a link to the US to move away from it and this is reflected in certain key players still making critical decisions especially in relation to Washington, often contrary to Pakistans long term interests. Be it in the arena of foreign or economic policy, the faces and directions have to have the US stamp of approval. Having accepted this basic premise, one can then move on to the main question and here it is difficult to evaluate our blunders as falling entirely into one category or the other. With the Kerry Lugar Act it was rather obvious on the civilian side how fascinated our Foreign Minister was with the Yanks and in most informed circles it is an unstated fact that our own ambassador - a man with a deep understanding and personal experience of most political parties in Pakistan from the JI to the PML-N and PPP - was a major contributor to the content of this Law. The debilitating results of this Law are still to be felt and assessed carefully but in the coming months the costs will become only too apparent. However, moving forward to the so-called strategic dialogue, despite Foreign Minister Qureshis spin, in terms of substantive matters, there was not much that Pakistan gained - apart from the usual promises to add to the unfulfilled ones of the past. Even the access to US markets has not actually happened. As for any access to nuclear energy on the style of the Indo-US agreement, for the umpteenth time we were told a categorical No but shamelessly our leaders continue to bleat on that count. In contrast, the US managed to get what it was seeking from us once again unilaterally. For instance, the US Administration had 'threatened to get Obama to raise the issue of the so-called 'held-up visas for US officials at the strategic dialogue so we complied immediately and gave all the visas without the normal procedures of checks If the civilians are clearly smitten by the US - and if not stupid, certainly mesmerized - then what of the military? What substantive gains has it made vis a vis the US? After all, it has still to be paid the past dues of the Coalition Support Fund and yet it continues to provide the services without clearing these dues. As for weapon systems, the F-16s have trickled in but the bulk of the order remains to be sent and we may see these being denied as in the past if we do not do the US bidding. Our army has taken on operations against its own people, albeit many who have strayed into extremism, and the COASs recent rather surprising and honest move of apologising to the tribesmen for massive civilian casualties was reflective of the costs of fighting a misplaced war on US behest. One does not fight military wars, as our military is doing, in the conventional sense against ones own people. The state resorts to paramilitary and bolstered law enforcement forces along with good human intelligence and effective psy ops. Simply bombing the hell out of villagers is not the way to win hearts and minds The few weapons trinkets the army has acquired from the US are constantly subject to audits - such is the level of mistrust the US has of Pakistan But the military has managed to show the US that it is more effective in delivering and that without its support the civilians cannot do much for the US So the US has made the army central to the loop of its Pakistan policies - which effectively has meant that the civilian democratic leaders are sidelined on crucial strategic issues with the US It would appear the Pakistan military wants to use the new understanding with the US - and here the civvies are ready to play ball since they are clinging to US coattails anyway - to send a tactical message to the Indians and Afghans that there is a new level of understanding and cooperation between the US and Pakistan and that the latter can leverage the former. Now this would be fine if that was the message that India was getting. Unfortunately, there is no tactical leveraging yet that one can fathom on that count. Just a brief glance at what India has been up to over the recent period will show how India is feeling absolutely no pressure from the US at all on Pakistans behalf On the water issue, India has not budged; on terrorism, India has continued to accuse Pakistan of supporting terrorism and terrorist camps and this accusation is not now limited to the Indian political leadership but also extends to the new Indian Army Chief. In Occupied Kashmir also the Indian states terrorism continues; nor has India cut back its presence in Afghanistan especially along the border area with Pakistan. On the contrary, General Petraeuss latest declaration, just last weekend, that India was an essential player in the USs AfPak policy should drive a clear message home to the Pakistanis that the US-India strategic partnership works jointly in any Afghanistan and Pakistan policy and strategies So clearly if this is the reason that the Pakistani establishment is accepting whatever the US dishes out, their tactical strategy is not working because they are ineffectual in using this to their advantage. Meanwhile, let us tally up the costs of the present relationship with the US, some would call it simple kowtowing. We have managed to antagonise, or at the very least undermine our relations with two crucial neighbours - China and Iran. In addition, our own polity has been rent asunder, especially since the previous and present governments have been forced to lie about the drone attacks to their own people. Even though the US continues to claim that the Pakistani leaders, including its military, have sanctioned these attacks against their own people, the leaders do not have the moral courage to own up to this. After all, if one sees the number of dead, most have been civilians - a point established through US data. Even more damaging has been the strange but discernable shifts in our India and Kashmir policies - which show how the US is leveraging us in support of Indian goals. From covert attempts to give land route access to India, including rail access, without any quid pro quos in terms of conflict resolution, we seem to have abandoned the composite dialogue process and opted for the dubious path of backdoor diplomacy - which in our case has always resulted in unholy compromises costly to Pakistan. Musharraf had begun this process but was luckily unable to see it through despite his highly contentious fur points on Kashmir which had to later be fitted and adjusted into Pakistans legitimate and principled position when he woke up to the reality that without UNSC resolutions we have no locus standi on Kashmir Now our democratic leaders, with a seeming acquiessence by the Establishment, are giving the impression that they are all ready to surreptitiously do a grand sell-out on Kashmir and other related conflicts. After all, why are we not even using the Indus Water Treatys conflict resolution mechanisms - other than simply paying them lip service while India proceeds ahead with its illegal dams construction and the diversion of our waters? And just look at the compromising statements of our leaders on India and Kashmir while the Indian leadership continues its accusatory and hostile tone from New Delhi. So clearly we have made neither any strategic achievements nor gained any tactical advantage from the present subservient relationship with the US. All that has happened is that the US has gained an incredible access into Pakistan, including in our civil society. Money is pouring in, to purchase segments of all groups in Pakistan, from students to scholars to media point persons including film makers - the leadership already loyal beyond doubt. Is there any check or regulation at all on this growing US intrusion into Pakistan? But this present passion for the US amongst our ruling elite is merely a symptom of a far larger disease. As a very wise scholar remarked: our leaders are unable to deal on an equal level with people, so they are uncomfortable dealing with non-westerners, because they have not been able to rid themselves of a colonised mindset which provides them with a comfort level when dealing with Westerners. Therein lies our problem today as it lay yesterday and the day before.