It seems like the much-needed process of reviewing our relationship with the United States as demanded by the Parliament has finally started. It was written on the sour face of Hillary Clinton during her whirlwind trip to Islamabad on Friday. She had arrived with the usual rotten carrots and threatening sticks, but this time her bag of tricks was of little help. When she arrived at the Chaklala airbase, she was not received by a battery of ministers, or even the Foreign Secretary, but by the Chief of Protocol of the Foreign Ministry. She was not given everything she demanded on a silver platter. Gone were her disarming plastic charms and her offensively arrogant airs. Obviously, our government needs to do more to break free of the suffocating American stranglehold but at least things have started moving in that direction. And this shift has already started producing results. To begin with, the United States has agreed to Pakistan's demand that it would not conduct any unilateral military action on Pakistani territory in the future. This might be a temporary, tactical retreat, as the United States is getting increasingly alarmed by the deepening Pak-China partnership and would do whatever it takes to thwart it. But even a temporary retreat is no small thing, coming as it does from the United States that speaks and acts like a mafia don and goes around the world like a badmaash moves around the streets under his control; swearing and slapping, snatching and grabbing, kicking and killing, wherever and whenever it suits him. After the May 2 Abbottabad operation, senior US officials were adamant that they had done nothing wrong and that they would do it again if they deemed it necessary. Ms Clinton did not apologise for the unlawful operation, but at least she agreed that the US would not conduct similar operations in the future. It has also been reported that during their meetings, Ms Clinton and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen pressurised the Pakistani leadership to reconsider its move to close down three military intelligence liaison centres in Peshawar and Quetta. But to no avail. The Pakistani leadership has stuck to its position on these fusion centres and has also stuck fast to its demand that the United States reduce the number of its troops and intelligence operatives present in the country. Ms Clinton also mouthed an understanding of Pakistan's concerns vis--vis the settlement in Afghanistan, appreciated the sacrifices and efforts of the Pakistani people and military in the fight against terrorism and admitted its indispensability when it comes to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. These might be hollow pronouncements meant to humour an estranged slave, but in the present context, they were refreshingly different from the official venom that the United States had lately been spilling about Pakistan's complicity in terrorism and the incompetence of its intelligence apparatus. Ms Clinton emphasised that her country and Pakistan must work together to counter terrorism in the region and gave a short list of top-terrorists that the US believes are operating from Pakistan. It was more like a challenge thrown at Pakistan to act against the listed terrorists, the underlying message being that if Pakistan does not succeed in apprehending or eliminating those on the list, it would demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Pakistan and therefore justify direct American action. And though Pakistan agreed to strengthen its cooperation with the United States to act against terrorist networks, it is this basic premise that needs to be reviewed. There is an urgent need for Pakistan to formulate a comprehensive policy on combating extremism and terrorism in the country that is independent of the United States and its twisted agenda for the region. The United States and its Pakistani pithoos would like us to believe that the support of United States is crucial when it comes to countering terrorism in Pakistan. They have created an impression as if our options are limited to either cooperating with the United States for elimination of terrorists or giving in to the terrorists. This, however, is a false impression. In fact, the United States and the terrorists feed on each other, and the chances of controlling the menace are slim as long as the United States is viewed as a part of the solution. An overview of the decade of US occupation of Afghanistan amply demonstrates this assertion. The US involvement in the region has actually led to an increase in terrorism. Whether it is due to direct support to warlords for ensuring the safe passage of NATO supplies or due to indirect consequences of an unjust and brutal war, the US has been a catalyst for spreading militant extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And when it comes to devising a strategy for countering the monster of terrorism, the United States would always be a part of the problem. Many friends feel that in reviewing our relationship with the US, much more needs to be done and much faster. They blame the sluggishness of our response to the recently heightened US aggression on a compromised political leadership that has no concept of or regard for our national interest and a military leadership weaned on the awe of American military power. They insist that it is time for decisive actions like shooting down drones, halting the passage of NATO supplies through Pakistan, deporting the entire lot of Americans who were given visas without proper scrutiny, and trimming the American diplomatic mission in Pakistan rather than allowing it to expand. Given the role of the United States in the region and the nefarious games it has been playing with a country that is supposed to be its friend, partner and ally, none of these demands are unreasonable. Other friends say, it is not a bad idea to go about doing things a bit differently. They feel that there is no doubt that we need to get out of the American trap, but they say we must do it gradually. We must create a strategy of disengagement which takes into account the economic, diplomatic and security fallout of leaving the odious US camp. They view the gradual distancing act of the government and creation of space in the relationship for Pakistan's concerns as sensible first steps. Interestingly, not one of my friends argues for a continuation of our sick relationship with a sick state. The writer is a freelance columnist.