ATA RABBANI Recently, there have been many intriguing developments with deep and far-reaching repercussions for South Asia and the Middle East. The whole scenario in these regions is undergoing a change and the US is determined to have its sway in it. Pakistan, as a country and as part of the region, is in a quagmire of the US and European manipulations of economic, political and strategic new look of these regions. The newly developed Indo-US relationship is no surprise to Pakistan. Since the subcontinent gained independence in 1947 from the British Raj, the US has been wooing India for strategic and economic reasons, but with no success. India stuck to its friendship with the Soviets; Pakistan was only USAs second choice and the Americans treated it as a girlfriend for a rainy day. The US repeatedly bought its cooperation through economic and military aid, and the deals were on task to task basis with no outstanding obligations. In these strictly business-like dealings with Pakistan, the US always kept eye on India. Washington made sure that it did not annoy the leadership in New Delhi, while giving military equipment to Pakistan and thus only equipped the its forces with the weapons that had no offensive capability. For instance, after Pakistan became member of SEATO and CENTO, its air force was equipped with a couple of Canberra jet bombers, but no gun-sights. Again at the time of the Sino-Indo War in 1992, all American military aid to Pakistan was withheld. These are only two examples of how the US betrayed Pakistan. Early in 2005, the US made a fabulous offer to India for the sale of the latest version of the F-18 hornet aircraft, along with its technology and manufacturing rights. Washington also expressed its resolve to see India emerge as a major world power. Later in March 2006, the historical nuclear deal was signed between the two countries. According to the deal, Washington was to sell enriched uranium to India for use in civilian nuclear power reactors; help India in space and missile technology; and persuade other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to endorse this. This virtually put India in the nuclear club without signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). On the contrary, Pakistans request for a similar treaty for the provision of nuclear fuel was blatantly refused with the advice that it should not equate itself with India in such matters, declaring that Pakistan and India are different countries, with different needs and different histories. So, as we [US] proceed forward, our strategy will take into effect those well known differences. What that meant is clear and unambiguous Pakistan is ditched, yet one more time. The long-term US objectives in South Asia and the Middle East are now emerging. Actually, the plan is to redraw the borders of the countries in the Middle East. It is termed as a clash of civilisations and cultures. For this purpose, the western media is fanning this hate campaign among the Muslims nations against all that is Islam. Ralph Peters in his article titled Blood Borders has recommended redrawing the borders in the Middle East because the present boundaries of these states are not natural. He argues: If these boundaries are not redrawn bloodshed will continue and a portion of this blood will continue to our own Americas. So it is because of this fear and to avoid the reoccurrence of 9/11, the US has designed its new Middle East policy. The details of this design in the Middle East, apart from breaking-up the countries of the region to reduce their economic and military potential to the minimum, also stimulates ethnic enmities by pitting Shias against the Sunnis by carving out Shia states from the Sunni countries, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Hence, keeping them involved in mutual conflicts all the time. At the same time, the US is concerned about the growing influence of Iran, particularly a nuclear Iran, in the Middle East threatening its dominance in the region. The US State Department has openly declared: The US will not allow Iran to control the Gulf.The Middle East is not a region to be dominated by Iranwe will defend our interests if we are challenged. The US is present in the Gulf and it is going to remain in the Gulf. This shows Americas determination to contain and isolate Iran in the region to safeguard its hegemony and make Israel acceptable in the region. However, in the game of The New Middle East, Pakistan is directly threatened. It will be forced to surrender its territories for the formation of a 'Greater Balochistan, and in the northwest to a 'Greater Afghanistan. Besides Pakistan, other non-Middle Eastern Muslim countries, who will suffer the loss of their territories, are Iran and Turkey. According to the New York Times, The Pentagon has advocated direct US strikes against the alleged Al-Qaeda training camps inside North Waziristan. In the same vein, Lt Gen Douglas Luke told the Armed Services Committee: American forces in Afghanistans eastern border routinely fire on and pursue Taliban into Pakistan. We have all the authority we need to pursue them either with artillery fire or on the ground across the border. These are astounding revelations made by Pentagons senior officials and if this is true, which there is no reason not to be, it is really intriguing. In this context, with President Barack Obama in the White House much was expected. His bold initiative to reach the Muslim world, especially the Middle East, raised Pakistans hopes of better understanding of its problems by the international community. However, Obamas Diwali dances in India, and Michelles entertaining the Indian children, dimmed our hopes. But a bombshell exploded when Obama addressed a joint press conference, along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on November 8, 2010, and made two startling promises to the Indian people. One: US will support India for a permanent seat in the UNSC. Two: Remove all restrictions preventing India from becoming member of the nuclear club. Nevertheless, this should open the eyes of the Pakistani power barons. The US intent to see India as a world power will change the regional dynamics in South Asia and the Middle East. Let it be clear to Pakistan that it is not going to get anything substantial from the US, except for empty words and the dazzle of dollars, but no dollars. The US administration will never risk upsetting India for Pakistan. So far Pakistan has been towing the American line, perhaps out of compulsion for the need of dollars for its army- - a mercenary concept fighting the war on terror, or out of fear of being bombed back to stone age. Now its time to be bold to face the challenges. This mercenary role must end and Pakistan should stand economically and politically on its own feet. It would be hard and a difficult venture, however, it can be done and should be done; there is definitely no way out. The latest visit of the US Vice President Joe Biden - ostensibly a pro-Pakistan Senator - to Islamabad on January 12, 2011, is an eye-opener. During his six-hour stay, he addressed a 16-minute press conference in which he was fuzzy, uncommitted and even contradictory. He said: It is not the drones or the occasional intrusions by the NATO jets, while pursuing terrorists that constitute violations of a countrys sovereignty, but it is the extremists, who violate its sovereignty. While Biden assured Islamabad of no more border violations and no US boots will tread on the ground, but at the same time contradicting himself he warned: US patience was running out with Pakistans indecision on military action against militants hideouts in North Waziristan and that the Americans would not wait indefinitely. Then winding up his press conference Biden remarked: I had to meet General Kayani and I am never late for the General. It was taken as a remark in a lighter vein, but it was not; it was said with a purpose as the US has always kept a watchful eye on the developments in Pakistan and believes that its army plays a vital role in the running of its affairs. Reportedly, US Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has recently said: Pakistan has to take speedy action against Al-Qaeda and Taliban elements holed in North Waziristan and that India has to be included in any such effort in South Asia. Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism in the world right now. It needs attention to eliminate that threat. Therefore, reference to India for inclusion in this effort is significant. This is what the US thinks about Pakistan and what is its action plan. It is now up to Pakistan to react and react in its interest. The writer is former ADC to the Quaid-i-Azam.