It is the proverbial story of the carrot and the stick. US President Donald Trump seems to believe that Pakistan has a role in US military failures in Afghanistan — so enough of the carrot, now it’s time for the stick. This time, military assistance worth US$ 255 million proposed for Pakistan by the State Department has effectively been held in an escrow account. Pakistan can access these funds only if it “does more” against militant group associated with trouble in Afghanistan. The amount had been promised by Barack Obama’s administration in 2015, to be released in 2016. And despite all his electoral promises, the Trump administration did not stop aid to Pakistan, but has only added more conditions to it. Reports in the US media estimate yearly assistance to Pakistan at around $1.1bn, but a significant amount gets withheld every year under different restrictions. Let us bear in mind that the US has not just started conditioning its military aid to Pakistan. This policy goes all the way back to the Pressler amendment under which certifications were issued by the US Secretary of Defence and the US President that Pakistan was not building a nuclear bomb. Thanks to newfound friends in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and strengthening of ties with China, which has been the single biggest arms supplier to Pakistan since 2011 — the hardline approach of the US is unlikely to hurt Pakistan as much as it would have a decade ago. Pakistan is less dependent on US military assistance today than it ever has been. But this does not mean that a hawkish posture should be taken or that efforts needed to put our own house in order should be ignored. On the one hand, this means that Pakistan needs to revive the path of diplomacy to highlights its efforts against terrorism. On the other, that it should go after militants of all stripes and strength its public institutions to deliver on governance and enforce law and order in its territory and pursue its regional interests guided by promotion of peace and amity. * Published in Daily Times, September 2nd 2017.