At Penpoint The ongoing Pak-US Strategic Dialogue was apparently part of a bilateral series, the last (and inaugural) one being this year in March, but it seems the purpose of this meeting was almost as if to push Pakistan into what it so far has refused to accept; carry out the operation in North Waziristan to create the situation of peace in Afghanistan and an absence of resistance that will allow the US the honourable exit from Afghanistan it craves. The Dialogue framework has been used by the US with other countries, and thus it must be remembered that it serves as a substitute, or an addition, to traditional diplomacy, because it serves American purposes, not that of the other party to the dialogue. This time around, the whole weight on the dialogue rested on the Pakistan army going into North Waziristan. That was a goal for which the US was even willing to commit military aid, a bribe which is of more benefit to permanent military officials, rather than their temporary political masters. It must be remembered that this is to be the money that does not touch Pakistani hands legally, but will be paid straight to weapons manufacturers after Pakistan has placed the orders. However, as the last bulk order of US equipment placed as aid showed, commissions can be received by the purchasing country as the price of selecting the goods of a particular company. However, as the money is meant by the US government as an indirect subsidy to its arms industry so that it keeps supplying its military, not all the money can be embezzled, unlike aid, which is also meant as a bribe. The net result for the country receiving military aid is that elected officials can get their beaks wet, but permanent officials would benefit more. If past experience is any guide, military men will only begin shopping after the money is voted, so there are presently no weapon systems clearly on the list. Apart from the value that any move into North Waziristan might have, the American aid will be tangible proof of the revival of the relationship between the two militaries. This is important at a time when the US has used the dialogue mechanism to make clear its partiality to India, and its desire that Pakistan follow its lead by ceasing to regard India as what it is: Pakistans main security concern. Since the US is probably misunderstanding matters, it should be clear that Kashmir is not the sole issue between the two. Rather, India sees Pakistan as a threat to its existence so long as it exists. As it wants India to have the prime role in the region, this will be essential for anyone wishing to have American goodwill. Just one example, that of Afghanistan, is unfolding. It was in pursuance of this goal that the dialogue also included Pakistans nuclear deal with China, with the US taking a deep interest in this. America had led the opposition to this deal at the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Though it has not moved in any way to meet Pakistans energy needs, which are reflected in the chronic loads-hedding afflicting the country, and adversely impacting all walks of life. If that alone was taken, then Pakistan was doing the right thing. Here, the US moved from the issue of non-proliferation, which it had pursued so vigorously, to interference in Pakistans internal affairs. This was made to multiply painful because Pakistan first asked the US for help in meeting this crisis, which it agreed to. Also, despite everything, the US gave India a civilian nuclear deal, but has denied one to Pakistan. Again, the pattern eme-rging is quite clear. Pakistan thinks that the relationship it has with the US can be used with reference to India. The US thinks, on the other hand, that India will be its regional bulwark against China. Indeed, if China achieves great-power status, so will India, and will be useful against it. But if India is to be fully useful to the US, it must be acknowledged in its own backyard as its main agent in the region, and any attempts, such as by Pakistan, to have an independent relationship with the US, are to be discouraged. This is the purport of the Nehru Doctrine, enunciated so many years ago, clothed in the guise of excluding external powers from the region. The arms deal may include a clause whereby arms supplied under it cannot be used against India - experience shows the worthlessness of such guarantees. At the same time, since 1971, when the efficacy of American arms was shown in the surrender at Paltan Maidan, itself a precursor of the American defeat in Vietnam, Pakistan has not used the arms supplied by the US against India, especially the arms acquired in the 1980s. However, India has chosen to exploit its position by demanding guarantees because it can, and because it is showing its animus against Pakistan. It suits the US for India to behave irresponsibly, for it means that the inevitable complaints against India will invite American intervention. Even when it is not available, because the US backs India, it will still provide Washington an opportunity to interfere. This seems to be a prime requirement of the dialogue format, which the US is also carrying out with India, which President Barack Obama is visiting this winter, even though he is not coming to Pakistan. This omission of a Pakistan leg seems even more of an omission considering that two previous American Presidents made the visit even though there were circumstances then working against the visits, in the latters case the presence of a military dictator. The restoration of democracy, of which the US made much, to the extent of tying related conditions in its grant of aid in the Kerry-Lugar Act, has gone unrewarded. This reward is one by which the present government sets great store, placing obedience to the US as one of the cornerstones of its existence. Therefore, the omission must be seen as a setback for the present government. Instead of relying on the people of Pakistan to remain in power, the PPP prefers to depend on the US. However, the dialogue format, while useful only to Washington, does not help the government, except as an illustration of how close the country is to the US. Nevertheless, as the omission of the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones and the Dr Afia case from the discussions showed, the agenda of the dialogue, especially between two such participants as the US and Pakistan, shows that it is driven by the US. Instead of giving legitimacy to a peculiarly American mechanism, the Pakistan government would do well to tell the US administration that its concerns can be addressed through normal diplomatic channels. But, for that to happen, the Government of Pakistan should be truly independent. Email: maniazi@nation.com.pk