"Obstinacy and vehemency in opinion are the surest proofs of stupidity." Bernard Barton The US administration has tried to raise a similar question that was put to President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf by General Colin Powell. The question was: "Are you with us or not?" Musharraf without consulting the democratic forces took a decision that, even today, remains unpopular with a vast majority of people in Pakistan. Once again, the administration has enquired whether the Pakistan government is with it or the Haqqani network. But it seems that this time the US may not get a response to its liking. The fact of the matter is that Pakistanis are fed up with both the Americans and extremists, and so they have decided to do what is in their countrys best interest. The tone and tenor of the high ranking officials in Washington have set a poor precedent in international diplomacy, and their frequent public outbursts have, to a great extent, damaged the Pak-US relations, which may require several years to get back to normal. Also, it is well known that Barack Obama will contest the 2012 presidential elections and that his approval ratings have slipped to 35 percent - meaning thereby, that when he seeks re-election the Republicans are most likely to defeat him. Americas economic policy, too, has resulted in increased unemployment, while the national debt rose to alarmingly high level never witnessed before in its history. Thus, US policymakers, instead of facing the hard truth, are trying to design a foreign policy that may help Obama to shore up his sagging support among the voters. For this, unfortunately, some senior members in the administration have decided to make Pakistan a scapegoat. The Americans must understand that although our government is weak, it has the peoples support as far as the countrys integrity is concerned. Their aggressive attitude has united the entire nation that will now speak with one voice; the civil and military leadership have decided that no amount of irrelevant bluster will be allowed in future. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani clearly stated that there are no safe havens of the Haqqani network in Pakistan - a fact that is also endorsed by the groups leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, in a telephonic interview with the British media from Afghanistan. In addition, he said that it was not Pakistans responsibility to protect the US and NATO forces deployed in the war-torn country; it is the responsibility of the Afghan security agencies and they should be held accountable for any mishap that takes place. Our leadership has also made it clear that no other country has such a strong record, as Pakistan in fighting terrorism. Hence, it would be unfortunate to ignore the sacrifices made by its people and armed forces, who have collectively lost nearly 40,000 lives, besides spending nearly $70 billion, in the war on terror. Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, too, maintained that the US is well aware about the countries that had or still have links with the Haqqani network. The truth is that even America has engaged with it from time to time to broker a face-saving exit from Afghanistan. However, the talks between the group leaders and US officials have failed, since the militants suspect that Washingtons main objective is to create divisions in their rank and file, rather than secure peace and harmony in Afghanistan. Likewise, other regional countries have also been negotiating with the network in an effort to establish a broad based government in Kabul before the occupying forces leave the country. But the US has chosen to single out Pakistan, even threatening hot pursuit against the so-called safe havens that supposedly operates in North Waziristan. If Washington goes ahead with its plan and sends in ground troops to Pakistan, the US will surely be committing an imperial suicide. For Pakistanis, the incursion would not be to chase the militants, but to seize their nuclear weapons. The Americans must think twice before undertaking any misadventure because the Pakistan army is not like the armies that the Americans have dealt with in Iraq or Afghanistan. The resultant scars will be deep and the animosity will never go away depriving the US of a reliable ally in this part of the world. Islamabad has correctly decided to call the American bluff this time round, and Washington will, probably, have no choice but to resume bilateral relations, unless it decides to abandon this region for good. Instead of taking things to a point of no return, it is in the interest of both the Americans and Pakistanis to try to remove the misgivings that have crept into their relationship and work out a solution. The US administration must understand that its strategy of withholding aid to Pakistan is not going to work, as similar methods were employed by successive governments in their effort to keep it (Pakistan) out of the nuclear club. It is expected that the American policymakers will learn their lesson in the art of diplomacy and stop raising hue and cry over a non-existent issue because if they continue with the present tirade against Pakistan and the ISI, Islamabad will be forced to spill the beans about USAs activities in the region. After all, the ISI and the Pakistani government are privy to many of its dirty secrets, which were employed during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. For example, the militant groups, who are responsible for the current mayhem around the world, particularly in Pakistan, are USAs creation. Therefore, it must equally share the responsibility for the terrorism that is taking place with regular intervals in Pakistan and elsewhere. Washington could have pursued a positive line by ensuring that the training camps and drug mafia/trade, which has flourished during Afghanistans occupation, were eliminated. Another issue that requires urgent US attention is the issue of occupied Jammu and Kashmir whose resolution would mean the beginning of a new era of peace and harmony in South Asia. Therefore, instead of using negative tactics, the Americans should pursue positive prospects for peace that exist in the region. One hopes that the coming days and weeks will see normalcy returning in the Pak-US relationship. However, the major burden would be on the US administration to put in place certain concrete measures that are visible and acceptable to the people of Pakistan. The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com