Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s speech in the Senate the other day on what had transpired in the official interactions during US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s short visit to Pakistan must have sounded like music to those of us who love to hate the US.At the same time those of us who earnestly believe in civilian supremacy too would have been equally delighted to see that in a welcome change for the first time in many decades the interaction was led by the civilian leadership of the country with the state machinery — civil and military bureaucracy — providing the needed backup. Notwithstanding the across the board positive domestic reaction to the way the interaction had played out as per our foreign minister’s version, the trust deficit that had marred the relations between Pakistan and the US since at least 2005 when the latter had started accusing Pakistan of playing a double game seems not to have diminished an iota with Tillerson handing over to Pakistan a most wanted list of 75 terrorists including the Haqqani chief Sirajuddin Haqqani with Pakistan countering with its own list of 100 most wanted which it expects the US to hunt and handover to Islamabad.It is not possible to disagree with FM Asif when he accuses our former Army Chiefs — Zia and Musharraf — of leading the country into wars that were certainly not ours. In the aftermath of these wars the country has been suffering massive losses in terms of men, material and money. And his argument that having lost the war in Afghanistan the US generals were making a scapegoat out of Pakistan sounds logical and therefore his suggestion to the US to let its politicians frame the Afghan policy in future rather than its generals seems timely.It is perhaps the Indians more than the US generals that want Washington to keep the pressure on Pakistan in return for New Delhi playing the proxy in America’s competition/ confrontation with China. But this competition/confrontation is neither ideological nor is it over territory but purely a socio-economic clash. And both the US and India in their own respective economic interests would not want to see a total annihilation of China as a market. All three economies — the US, China and India — are intertwined. They need each other to improve their respective levels of prosperity.Without perhaps meaning to undermine Pakistan’s national interests China would certainly like to continue to make Pakistan see the positive side of getting both India and Afghanistan to join its One Belt One Road, initiative through the CPEC. In the past as well China has been openly advising Pakistan to mend its fences with IndiaBy the same token China would not want to lose any of its markets, especially, the regional markets that include India, Afghanistan, and Central Asia etc. for any reason, least of all for the sake of its friendship with Pakistan which both countries describe as higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight, sweeter than honey and so on. Without perhaps meaning to undermine Pakistan’s national interests China would certainly like to continue to make Pakistan see the positive side of getting both India and Afghanistan to join its One Belt One Road, initiative through the CPEC. In the past as well China has been openly advising Pakistan to mend its fences with India. Therefore, it would be in the socio-economic and political as well as security interests of Pakistan itself to allow both Afghanistan and India to trade with each other through land route via Pakistan. Once the commerce of these two hostile countries merge into CPEC, they would themselves in their own economic interests ensure that the land route is not misused by anyone to create security problems for the transit country.And this brings us to our own raging war against terrorism that we are fighting within the country since 2014. The highly successful military campaigns of Zarb-i-Azb and Radd-ul-Fassad have literally saved Pakistan in the nick of the time from falling into the hands of the forces that have turned Iraq and Syria into bloody killing fields. This campaign needs to be further intensified and continued till the last terrorist is eliminated and the extremist mid-set that has infested the masses at large has been eradicated. The overall national psyche has also been radicalized by the various wars we have been fighting over the last 30 years — the first Afghan war of the 1980s, the two low intensity ten-year long wars, one on the side of Taliban against Northern Alliance and the other on the side of Kashmiri freedom fighters against Indian troops in the 1990s and the second Afghan war which is continuing to date since the turn of the century.It is now time for Pakistan to focus on socio-economic problems confronting the country rather than wasting time on fighting others’ wars and bottling up the country into physical isolation by closing off our borders on neighbours.Also it is now time for us to do something very tangible about the Afghan refugee problem that has in fact largely hindered all our efforts to smoke out the sleeping cells of terrorists from among the law abiding refugees. One way of getting rid of this problem is to forcibly push the entire mass of some four million Afghan refugees across the Durand Line. But this is neither advisable nor perhaps possible.But then why can’t the US and UNHCR help us in getting the Afghan government to issue Afghan passports to these refugees? A fail-safe system could be developed for the purpose with an Afghan passport office set up inside a refugee camp under the supervision of UNHCR. And Pakistan government could issue various categories of visas (business, student, work, tourists, medical etc.) on these passports without any charges. This would be a step forward towards starting the process of separating the chaff from the wheat.Meanwhile, it would be in the fitness of things at this juncture to expedite the process of merging the Federally Administered Tribal Area into the province of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP). This would finally turn overnight all those Pushtuns living since independence as state-less tribal population into Pakistani nationals and set them apart from their ethnic brothers living on the Afghan side of Durand Line. The writer is a senior journalist based in Islamabad. He served as the Executive Editor of Express Tribune until 2014Published in Daily Times, October 28th 2017.