The US State Department this week unveiled a brand spanking new four-point international travel advisory ranking system for Americans, unquiet and otherwise, who are sufficiently confident that they will be granted the right of return. Pakistan has been accorded a Level Three warning: reconsider travel. This is only one place ahead of the worst category. Level Four is categorical in its imperative, do not go there.Washington has warned that our tribal badlands are particularly at risk to terrorist attack. Not to mention the restive province of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as our part of Kashmir. Thus the intended message is clear. We have not managed to secure areas bordering both our western and eastern sides. And that this is due to our penchant for offering the usual suspects safe-havens on the one hand, and our equal fondness for mainstreaming certain globally proscribed terrorist masterminds on the other.Nevertheless, Afghanistan is one of the 10 nations that have made it into Level Four; all of which have been not unfairly described as war zones and failed states. Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of these have been crushed by the sheer weight of the US military footprint; unable to rise from the ensuing rubble. Meaning that nations from Iraq to Syria to Libya are deemed by the experts at Trump Town to be more dangerous hotspots than little ol’ Pakistan.Which, we have to say, has somewhat unwittingly dampened the perceived American resolve to have us do more, more, more to go after those whom the US has now decided are turncoats of the multi-coloured dream variety. For what this ranking underscores is the sheer folly of going all gung-ho; especially when this may or may not be against indigenous populations that recognise not man-made borders. And that to do so would likely unleash disaster of such catastrophic proportion — even without the full military might of American and NATO forces — that it could precipitate the veritable collapse of Pakistan as we know it. Or it could be just the vindication that our military establishment has been searching for; one that says ours is really the best. With the added bonus, perhaps, of sending a clear message to Britain to jog on and find itself a new army recruitment slogan. To be honest, it doesn’t much matter which of these perspectives prevails. For the end result is the same: the US just strengthened Pakistan’s determination not to do its bidding inside its own borders.Admittedly, this new travel warning system will likely in the long-term have an impact on a country that is hoping, with the help of ambitious Chinese infrastructure projects, to eventually transform itself into a hub of regional tourism. But for now, at least, in terms of the international development sector, if the Trump ranking sees contracts coming to an end — it will likely be the aid workers themselves that will protest most righteously. After all, those who are holed up in urban centres like Islamabad or Lahore where they don’t really have to go out into the field, have it pretty good. With their inflated salaries, including financial compensation (as opposed to recompense) for working in a recognised conflict zone and their long and frequent vacation time many enjoy livin’ it large here in Pakistan.Not such a hard country, after all. *Published in Daily Times, January 12th 2018.