ISLAMABAD - The Obama administration's Af-Pak policy review indicates strategic directions, highlights concerns and above all tries to convince Pakistan that the US is investing in Pakistan's stability over the long haul. The 1.5 billion dollars per year over the next five years (extendable for another five years?) is far short of the roughly 5 billion dollars per year that Pakistan needs for economic recovery. The shortfall may be made up by the Friends of Pakistan. Military capacity building and reimbursement for operations is in addition to what has been promised. Pakistan's economic viability should be the most important objective because it is the best response to the extremist and terrorist threat. The earlier 'do more' mantra is not there but there is the matter of US assistance not being a 'blank check' and that Pakistan has to 'demonstrate commitment' and that progress will be monitored and reviewed. This has irked Pakistanis but it is not unreasonable given the utilization of the 10 billion dollars given earlier. This is a reminder to Pakistan that it has to have a strategic response that sets priorities, gives out policies and makes clear blueprints of its plans for the future. Too many distractions are hampering and delaying this process. Time is being lost and this is translating into an increased threat. Pakistan differs vastly from Afghanistan. Pakistan has capacity in the form of institutions, organizations, expertise and leadership. This gives Pakistan considerably more potential than Afghanistan that is a totally failed state overrun by drugs, weapons and minimal capacity. Without US/NATO presence and support Afghanistan would cease to be a state at all. This should have led the US to determine that Pakistan is the anchor or the center of gravity for US' AF-PAK strategy and without a stable Pakistan this strategy cannot succeed. If this had been done then Pakistan would have received far more importance than it has in the 'new' policy. Pakistan has the potential to build capacity to contain the threat and recover lost spaces and stability. The focus should be on Pakistan's political stability, economy and security. In the wake of the strategic review of AF-PAK there has been renewed and surprising pressure, with the military and ISI as the main targets. Mr Gates, Ambassador Holbrooke, Generals Jones, Petraeus and Admiral Mullen have all weighed in with their views. Pakistan needs to determine who has convinced the US that the military and the ISI have 'rogue elements' or that they are 'less than totally committed'. The US and Pakistan need to resolve this and come on the same page otherwise the trust deficit will grow. Pakistan also needs to note the voices from within Pakistan that create distortions and doubts for personal gains. It is unlikely that the US would be convinced by what the Indians or the Afghans have to say. For Pakistan it's military and ISI are strategic assets. The military remains a powerful stabilizing influence and it is actively supporting democracy in the country. The decision to increase troop strength in Afghanistan means that the military option is to get renewed importance. So far NATO is not winning in Afghanistan and the reason is failure to develop governance capacity and stabilize civil society-the real requirement. The Drone attacks in Pakistan's FATA are to be continued and there are thoughts of expanding these to the Baluchistan area. Predator strikes are not a strategy-not even part of a strategy. They are tactical actions to ratchet up body counts. The downside is that public opinion asking for respect of Pakistan's sovereignty is being ignored, the government undermined and these strikes are the major motivating factor for new recruits in the terrorist cadres and the anti-American lobby. An expansion of US strikes beyond FATA or into Baluchistan would be disastrous and will be totally out of sync with the talk of a 'down payment on investment in Pakistan' because it would undermine Pakistan's sovereignty. Surprisingly the UK defense minister has also talked of 'attacks in Pakistan'. If Pakistan is an important regional ally then the US and the Pakistan government have to devise a joint strategy and the effort should be to bolster Pakistan's civilian leadership not undermine it. Pakistan also does not want terrorist sanctuaries or insurgent movements within its territory. The US AF-PAK policy should prompt Pakistan to raise the caliber and level of the debate on US-Pakistan policy. There is a need to gain an insight into the 'country view' that the US has of Pakistan and how the US rates Pakistan in terms of future political stability, economic viability and internal and external security. This view is what determines US overt and covert, short term and long term policies and contingency plans for Pakistan and the region. Discussions of 'special relations' between individuals are futile and nothing more than clutching at straws--policy options and plans have to be based on hard realities. The writer is former Army Chief who now heads a think-tank, Spearhead. Web: