President Obama’s bear hug with Indian Prime Minister Modi must not have come as a surprise to the international community. It is typical of how compromises are made when there is a convergence of states’ interests. Obama had conveniently forgotten that Modi was, till 2013, banned to enter USA over his role as Chief Minister during the infamous massacre of over 2000 Muslims in Gujrat in 2002. Modi warmly reciprocated by serving tea to US president that sealed the new relationship between the two countries, not to mention the gift of a hundred odd saris to the US First Lady.

This was President Obama’s second snub to Pakistan in his White House tenure, the first happened when he visited India in 2010. The fact that he did not even consider a brief stop-over in Islamabad unlike his predecessors, Bill Clinton in 2000 and George Bush in 2006, reflects a major political as well as diplomatic failure of our ruling elite. This time Islamabad had to be satisfied with reportedly a consolation telephone call from Obama to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prior to the New Delhi trip.

The new challenges to Pakistan’s national security require a deep review of our foreign policy objectives to counter the deterrence instability and strategic imbalances created in the region as a result of Obama’s visit to New Delhi. Pakistan’s nuclear and defence planners would surely examine the long term implications of US- India civil nuclear technology agreement and enhanced defence cooperation including US military sales to India that are projected to increase from the current 10 to 100 billion US dollars in the coming years.

With India becoming the world’s leading arms purchaser and recipient of US weapon systems technology, the stage seems all set for a massive conventional weapons build up to boost India as a global military power that not only serves US interests in the region but also threatens Pakistan’s security and even challenges China’s status as US’s global competitor.

That Obama referred to India as a trustworthy partner in Afghanistan more than indicates the untrustworthy nature of US – Pak relations, especially in the context of Pakistan’s acknowledged role in facilitating peace and stability across our western borders. The US must understand that as long as India’s security network continues with its dirty anti-Pakistan games on Afghan soil, real peace in Afghanistan or the region will never be achieved.

On the issue of open US support for India’s permanent seat in the UN Security Council, the world community must ask Obama the following questions. How can a country that persistently violates UNSC resolutions on granting Kashmiris the right to self determination and even prohibits deployment of UN Observers on the Line of Control, be inducted in this apex world body? How can a country that cannot live in peace with its neighbours be considered for special status in UNSC?

Pakistan’s position in a changing geopolitical scenario needs to be aggressively portrayed at the international level. The country cannot pursue an aggressive foreign policy with its key security/foreign service experts remaining confined to Islamabad .

The nation currently witnesses ‘military diplomacy’ of a class that is unprecedented in a democratic environment. In Gen. Raheel Sharif, we see a leader, soldier, diplomat and humane person par excellence. Having already won the hearts and minds of the people by leading from the front in Operation Zarbe Azab as well as in the aftermath of the Army Public School tragedy, his role as the country’s de facto ‘foreign minister’, not by design but by default, is least surprising in view of extraordinary security related challenges faced by the country.

His recent visits to meet top civil and military leadership in major world capitals including Washington, London, Beijing and air dashes to Kabul were aimed to project a range of strategic issues, especially Pakistan’s concerns related to India’s efforts to sabotage the gains of Operation Zarb –e Azab.

Pakistan has rarely been without the services of a full time foreign or defence minister. It remains a mystery why even after more than eighteen months in power, the prime minister still does not feel the urge to discontinue the present state of ad hocism in foreign policy and defence related matters.

While one cannot doubt the expertise of veteran national security and foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz and special assistant/ former career diplomat Tariq Fatemi, they seem to have made little impact in delivering viz a viz their respective portfolios efficiently in a proactive manner.

In case of the ageing Sartaj Aziz, whose meritorious services to the country are acknowledged , it is perhaps time for him to hang his gloves in favor of a relatively younger and dynamic candidate. In case of our incumbent part time defence minister Khawaja Asif, the lesser said the better.

Where the prime minister deserves credit is in Dr Maleeha Lodhi’s well deserved appointment as Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN. A journalist turned diplomat, Dr Lodhi represented Pakistan most ably, twice as our Ambassador in Washington DC and also served as High Commissioner in London.

In her first stint in Washington DC, she played a commendable role in the passage of famous ‘Brown Amendment’ in 1995 that gave a waiver to notorious 1985 ‘Pressler Amendment’ which had linked military assistance to Pakistan to US president’s yearly certification that the country does not have nuclear weapons. Hopefully Dr Lodhi’s new assignment in New York will help in safeguarding Pakistan’s national security interests at UNSC in the wake of US’s open declaration of a global partnership with India.

Whether Obama’s visit will lead to reduced tensions between the two nuclear armed neighbors of South Asia will be evident from Modi’s behavior towards Pakistan in the coming days. Will we see a more hawkish Modi or one who will talk peace with Pakistan? Only Obama and Modi know what they discussed during the leisurely walk, a conversation that Modi referred to as ‘secret’.

Irrespective of consequences of Washington’s tilt towards New Delhi, the fundamentals of Pakistan’s relations with India will not change. These are: a rejection of Indian hegemony in South Asia, no compromise on Kashmir and dealing with India as two equal, sovereign nations.

The writer is a retired brigadier and a political/defence analyst and columnist.