A well-known expert on Pakistan-US relations, Dr. Marvin Weinbaumstated that the Trump Administration is looking for an option to change the course of the war in Afghanistan. In an interview with me, he said that it is strongly believed that it will be difficult to achieve any kind of success in Afghanistanwithout Pakistan’s cooperation. The US wants Pakistan to clamp down on the Quetta Shura Taliban and the Haqqani Network: that is inevitable if major US goals in Afghanistan have to be accomplished. To a question about public criticism of Pakistan by the US President, Dr. Weinbaum opined that publicly criticizing Pakistan – in what appears to be insulting language -is counterproductive. There are other ways and means to make Pakistan’s leadership understand that now there are certain changes in US policy towards this war; a change that comes with certain ‘rewards’. It will be difficult for Pakistan to again appear to take directionsfrom the US, and it will be quite difficult for Pakistan to explain to its public after Trump’s tirade that supporting the US in Afghanistan may also be in Pakistan’s interests. Weinbaumsuggested a heavy dose of diplomacy to reduce the current high temperature in the relationship. The most important thing is that both nations have a constant dialogue. They can create incentives on both sides for cooperation. It is counterproductive to have them trade allegations against each other. By talking about sanctuaries of Taliban and Haqqani Network in Pakistan, Dr. Weinbaum agreed with the fact that operation Zarb-e-Azbhas played a role in dispersing the Haqqani Network from North Waziristan Agency (NWA). TheAfghan Taliban have,meanwhile, deeply established themselves in Afghanistan and have numerousmeans of support;including poppy growing, smuggling, extortion, and support from the Afghan diaspora worldwide. Weinbaum believes that Pakistan will continue to maintain its links to the Haqqanis and Taliban, as long as it believes it may need friendly Pashtuns across the border; in the event of a disintegrating Afghanistan. When I asked him about the capabilities and performance of Afghan government and security forces, he stated that the US made a mistake during Bush administration by giving little priority to training the Afghan security forces. Although those forces have nowofficially increased to 350,000, theyare still not up to the task of defeating the insurgents alone. As far as the Afghan government is concerned, the US has pushed Afghan government to introduce reform and control corruption, something that was resisted bythe former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai.Ashraf Ghani is making a greater effort to deal with corruption, but his ability to succeed is limited by political calculations and due to the political culture. In an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Dr. Marvin Weinbaum suggested that despite the US tilt toward India, he is convinced that for India and Pakistan to avoid confrontation is important to the US, and Washington will stay engaged in the region but might not seek to increase tensions by allowing India to undertake provocative actions in Afghanistan While talking about the US leverage on Pakistan – to get it to agree to the demands – Dr. Weinbaum explained that US leverage is now limited. There is the reality of the US need for keeping open the Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC) into Afghanistan. Pakistan does need the US assistanceto maintain amilitary machine that is primarily built on the US-suppliedweaponry and spare parts. In financial matters, the US has influence with internationalfinancial institutions like World Bank and IMF. However, Pakistan now sees other options in China and possibly Russia as well, and seems to have concluded that the US needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs the US. While talking about the Indian role in Afghanistan, Dr. Weinbaum stated that Pakistan exaggerates the India’srole in Afghanistan. He believes that the best way to reduce India’s presence in Afghanistan is through a more cooperative relationship with Kabul. As for Balochistan, he contends that it has been Pakistan’s inability to solve its own internal problems there,as elsewhere,which has allowed India to meddle. In discussing the Afghan Taliban, Weinbaum claims now it appears that the US has largely given up on the idea of a negotiated political solution and may be willing to be more aggressive. The question is whether it will seek targets in Pakistan, as it did with the attack that killed Mullah Mansour?Asmall surge in American and allied troops are not capable of turning the tide against the insurgents,he believes, but will enable the Kabul government to stabilize and strengthen enough over the next few years: onlyto deny victory to Taliban. Weinbaum does not expect the current situation to lead to a serious breakdown in relations. Despite the tilt toward India, he is convincedthat it is important for India and Pakistan avoid confrontation, and that Washington might not seek to increase tensions by pushing India to take provocative actions in Afghanistan.The US is always mindful of the fact that India and Pakistan are nuclear weapon capable states and that it must stay engaged in the region. While the US may be displeased with the level of cooperation it receives from Pakistan, it recognizes that it can ill afford to have Pakistan as an adversary: especially given its concerns about nuclear proliferation and the need to work together to confront global terrorism. In responding to a question about the statement of US Foreign Secretary Rex Tillerson that the US has all the options on the table in dealing with Pakistan, Weinbaum pointed out that the US does not,in fact,have many options when it comes to Pakistan. In the end, both countries willneedto find means tocooperate in those critical areas within which they, despite everything, sharecommon interests. The author is a freelance journalist Published in Daily Times, September 1st 2017.