The time has come to look beyond the seemingly un-statesman-like Twitter outbursts of the usual suspect. For Donald Trump, it pains us to say, may have a point when it comes to highlighting the crisis of confidence in the Pak-US bilateral relationship, which also extends to Afghanistan as the unsleeping partner. Indeed, we imagine that Kabul is rather miffed with the unquiet American president right now. Given that the latter ‘admitted’ this week that his country has, for the last 15 years, been paying Pakistan vast sums to hunt down Afghan militants only for us to allegedly afford them shelter. Thus if we were Kabul, we might seek significant reparations from the US over its funding of a ‘known’ state-sponsor of terrorism. Indeed the first payout could come from the $225 million in military assistance to us that the unquiet American President is keeping firmly under his belt; as opposed to his hat. Washington said that it won’t be showing Pakistan the money until we take “decisive action” against militant groups that are “destabilising the region and targeting US personnel”. That Washington has specifically mentioned its troops’ security ought to give the Pakistani establishment pause for thought. For with American and NATO forces just across our border we have to get serious about flushing out any residual elements. We can only trade for so long on our nuclear capability. Just as we can perhaps only bank on not coming under possible IMA fire only as long as Gen Raheel is at the helm.And while Pakistan and the US have been here many times before, things are a little different now. Indeed, political pundits have in recent months begun talking about the Army having come out of the barracks. For this hard country is now one where globally proscribed terrorists are part of the political mainstream. Meaning that Trump Town has a potentially more alarming scenario on its hands as compared to that which confronted the two previous White House administrations. No longer is the US primary concern that Islamist terrorists may overthrow the Pakistanis state. Today the fear is that the latter will now sit pretty at the state banquet. Thus we may or may not conclude that the showman president was aiming to drag the military establishment into the eye of the recent Twitter storm. While it would be easy to recommend that our security apparatus just do as the US is asking — things are never so simple. In other words, we find it hard to understand how the world’s most sophisticated military can fail to take out these so-called safe-havens that are reportedly resting within our borders. Unless of course this means that they are in urban centres. But then again Bin Laden was only taken out after a local tip-off.All of which has led to speculation here that the suspension of military assistance is tantamount to having Pakistan pick up the tab for the American troop surge; given that the US is not leaving this region anytime soon, not while China’s star shines so brightly. And even if we did the American bidding — and make no mistake, we absolutely must ensure that no groups enjoy sanctuaries from which to launch cross-border attacks, including across our eastern side — a new bogeyman would surely spring up. After all, we helped decimate Al Qaeda only to be told that the Taliban was the problem. And already, ISIS lurks dangerously close on the horizon. Most commentators agree that despite the US likely wanting to rattle China as the latter makes inroads into the traditional American regional stronghold it will, nevertheless, stop short of direct confrontation. Which may mean that Washington may in reality be trying to provoke a military takeover to foment nationwide unrest as the country gears up for summertime elections. And with certain local militant actors already routinely targeting our boys in khaki — this will give Trump Town even more reason to stay put. To protect our nukes from falling into suspect hands, naturally.And although Pakistan’s Parliament is scheduled to convene next week to discuss the bilateral relationship — we do, hope, they will pop across to GHQ and do the same there. *Published in Daily Times, January 6th 2018.