AZAM KHALIL "Hateful to me as are the gates of hell, Is he who, hiding one thing in his heart, Utters another." - Homer The pattern is the same, the American administration under one pretext or the other has penalised the Government of Pakistan in spite of the fact that successive governments in this country have played to the tune of the United States. The Americans have always treated Pakistan in an unfair and arbitrary manner without any consideration of the fact that this country has been a steadfast ally of the Americans. Pakistan was a member of SEATO and CENTO, which did not stop the Americans from imposing restrictions on this country during the 1965 hostilities with India. The Americans suspended their military aid to Pakistan during the 1971 Indian invasion that led to the creation of Bangladesh; and then in 1979 the Americans imposed punitive sanctions on Pakistan in an effort to stop its uranium enrichment facilities. However when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the Americans, in their own interest, resumed military aid. But as soon as Russia withdrew its forces from Afghanistan in 1990 the Pressler Amendment once again resulted in the imposition of sanctions. The Americans, in sheer violation of norms relating to international agreements, also withheld the delivery of nearly 30 F-16 aircrafts, although Pakistan had paid around $660 million for them. They went berserk after Pakistan tested its nuclear weapons to send a warning shot to the Indians, who had tested their own nuclear devices. The United States imposed severe economic and military sanctions. They also lobbied against this country with other nations. These restrictions were increased when General Pervez Musharraf captured power, which provided another pretext to the US administration to impose further sanction on this country. Some of this aid was resumed during the Musharraf regime, when the Americans decided to use the services of Pakistan as a frontline state in the war against terrorism. Everyone is aware about the reaction of a vast majority of the people of this country after the Americans attached certain uncalled for conditions in the Kerry-Lugar Bill. These conditions were so one-sided that even the disciplined armed forces of Pakistan were forced to react openly and criticise those conditions that were seen to infringe the independence and damage the sovereignty of Pakistan. The Americans then tried to please the people of this country and to do this they attached an explanatory note with the Kerry-Lugar Bill and tried to allay the worst fears of the people in this country. While the debate on this issue has not died down, the Americans in their 'wisdom' attached stringent strings to the $700 million aid meant for the counter terrorism effort that is being made by Pakistan. The United States is aware that the people of Pakistan and its armed forces have not only made a substantial contribution to fight terrorism, but have made great sacrifices both in the shape of human life and large amounts of money. The new conditions that have been imposed on the Government of Pakistan are in line with continued American efforts to please the Indian government. The Indians, who are the enemies of this country, have been making every effort to scuttle all attempts by the Government of Pakistan that would result in improving its capability not only in fighting terrorism but also to defend itself. The Americans have signed a civilian nuclear deal with the Indians on the pretext that they need increased electricity to meet the demands of their economy. In the same breath the Americans are not willing to strike a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan that would allow its non-NATO ally to not only get rid of load shedding but also to provide cheap electricity to its dormant industry and its hard pressed citizens. The Americans have concluded that perhaps India is extremely important for them because the Americans erroneously think that in the coming years they will be able to use India against the growing power of China. The Americans have always failed to understand the ground realities of this region and by ignoring Pakistan vis--vis India they are not following a sound foreign policy. The Indians will never sacrifice their national interest for the sake of the Americans and will never ever attain a position where they could challenge China's military power. Recently several important members of the US administration have been seriously considering recommendations of a think tank that has recommended that the Americans should fight a bigger war than the one it is currently engaged in, in Iraq or Afghanistan, if it wants to revive its sinking economy. The recommendations have relied on the established fact that it was the American economy which earned more than a trillion dollars after the Second World War and gained global dominance after achieving so much of economic muscle. It was on this premise that the American policy makers were entrenched and were doing everything in their command to encourage and prop up the Indians; and, that, they felt could only be done if they put Pakistan in a position where it was left with no choice but to accept Indian dominance in this region. To achieve this strategic goal the Americans have not hesitated to once again play foul with this country and that has resulted in creating a seriously awkward position for the democratic forces in Pakistan. The American policy makers must understand that by penalising Pakistan they may never achieve any advantage that they are pursuing at present. In case Pakistan is further weakened and its armed forces do not command the full support of the people of this country, time may soon run out for the Americans and the extremist elements may get an opportunity to capture power that could lead to catastrophic consequences not only in this strategic region of the world. An extremist government in Pakistan could well become a serious threat to the peace of the world, which will not serve any purpose for anyone least of all the Americans. It would therefore be advisable that the Americans follow an even handed policy vis--vis Pakistan and India; that can only be done if Pakistan has a strong economy and vibrant armed forces. A stable Pakistan would be in the interest of the international community and therefore trying to damage or weaken Pakistan would be counterproductive and create a situation that could become extremely dangerous not only for this region but for the entire world. One hopes that the Americans stop playing tricks with Pakistan and use their influence to stop the flow of money and arms from Afghanistan into the Northern Areas of this country. The Americans must also pressurise India to stop stoking the fires of insurgency in Balochistan and force them to accept the United Nations resolutions on the Kashmir issue; otherwise this region will continue to be a boiling pot with its chances of overflowing becoming greater with each passing day. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: