Since the PML-N came into power earlier this year, Sartaj Aziz has made references to the new ‘comprehensive’ foreign policy of this regime time and again. Bilateral trade with neighboring countries seems to be fundamental for the new government going forward, and Aziz realizes that the relationship with the US must be revaluated considering the changing scenario of world politics. However, instead of identifying the direction this relationship will take in the future, our foreign policy experts are content with waiting for the pull-out before deciding how to treat the world’s only superpower. The policy then, is clearly not as inclusive and extensive as Aziz believes it to be.

Apart from China, America has historically been one of Pakistan’s key allies and our relationship has been centered on ‘mutual strategic aims’. In lay terms, that means military aid. Military rule has had a huge impact on our policies, both domestic and foreign, and our ties to America were developed initially because Pakistan needed a strong ally to go toe to toe in the arms race against India. The US needed a roadblock against the communist threat in the South Asian region, and Pakistan was seen as the perfect defence against the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the Cold War. After the fall of the USSR, both Pakistan and Afghanistan blamed the US for abandoning them. The War on Terror and the operation in Afghanistan brought Pakistan back into the mix with the US, as once again, the theatre of war was in our neighborhood. Getting involved in this war did not only bring an influx of foreign aid, but also led to direct attacks by the terrorists in this country.

Their war became ours, and the government should not make the mistake of thinking that 2014 and the US pullout will mean a respite for Pakistan. Terrorism has now taken root in this country and it will take more than just a tactical retreat from the US to fix that. Which is why it is imperative that the government formulates a contingency plan now, before there is no one on the other side to counter the threat. This war is far from over for us. The TTP and their allies are not going to just walk away, once the US leaves us to our own devices, and we need to ask ourselves what our next move will be when we stand alone against the onslaught of the enemy.