Diplomacy is an art of possibilities. In inter-state relations, interests are always permanent irrespective of ruling regimes. ‘Politics makes strange bedfellows’. This saying is adapted from a line in the play ‘The Tempest’ by William Shakespeare. Political and strategic interests can bring together people who otherwise have little in common. The recent coercive statements by Donald Trump referring Pakistan are not only against the ethics and norms of diplomacy but will not serve any definite purpose either. This is the truth in Pak-US relations since 1947. On 20 October 1947, two months and six days after Pakistan’s independence, the US established relations with Pakistan, making it amongst the first nations; though Pakistan initially struggled to position itself as a non-aligned member of the international community. Pakistan’s pro-communist forces commanded considerable support in East Pakistan, while in West Pakistan, the pro-Soviet Pakistan Socialist Party remained primarily marginalised. The capitalist and pro-American Pakistan Muslim League dominated much of West Pakistan’s political landscape, particularly in the prosperous region of Punjab, while its base of support in East Pakistan was far more modest. Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan, however, attempted to establish friendly relations with both the Soviet Union and the United States in hopes that Pakistan could benefit from an alliance with both superpowers. In 1960, President Ayub Khan permitted the United States to fly its first spy missions against the Soviet Union from the Peshawar Air Base, which had been upgraded with American funds. West Pakistan’s high rate of economic growth during this period brought wide regard to Pakistan as a model of successful implementation of capitalism in a developing country. In 1964, the GDP growth rate was 9.38 percent.The Soviet-Afghan war was a part of the CIA covert agenda initiated during the Carter administration, which consisted of actively supporting and financing the Mujahideen, later converted — known as Al-Qaeda. The Pakistani military regime played, from the outset in the late 1970s, a key role in US-sponsored military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan. The 1977 military coup in Pakistan, leading to the demise of the PPP government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was a precondition for the launching the CIA’s covert war in Afghanistan. During most of the Afghan war, Pakistan was more aggressively anti-Soviet than even the United States. Osama bin Laden was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihad. He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerrilla training camp. During the Reagan administration, Osama, who belonged to the wealthy Saudi ‘Bin Laden’ family, was put in charge of raising money for the Mujahideen. After the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, following the mysterious death of Zia and the US Ambassador in a C130 crash, relations deteriorated quickly with upcoming prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. The United States took a tough stand on Pakistan’s nuclear development, passing the Pressler amendment, while significantly improving its relations with India. India discovered a new diplomatic avenue: “The road to Washington lies via Tel Aviv”. Benazir and Nawaz Sharif also asked the US to take steps to stop the Indian nuclear program, feeling that the US was not doing enough to address what Pakistan saw as an existential threat.After the September 11 attacks in 2001 in the US, Pakistan became a key ally in the war on terror. However, Pakistan’s support of the US and its war angered many Pakistanis who do not support it. Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan on 2 May 2011. Since some in the US government claimed that they had caught Bin Laden without Pakistan’s help, numerous allegations accused the government of Pakistan of shielding bin Laden. Following years of poor inter-governmental relations, the two countries began to cooperate more closely, particularly following the US’ use of drone missiles to strike at Pakistan’s most-wanted militant Mullah Fazlullah on 24 November 2014, whom they ‘narrowly missed’. The US later used drone missiles to kill several of Pakistan’s most wanted militants who were hiding in a remote region close to the Afghan border in November 2014.The Pakistani Zarb-e-Azb operation against militants in North Waziristan also, in the words of Lt Gen Joseph Anderson, ‘fractured’ the Haqqani Network — long accused by the US of having a safe harbour in Pakistan.On 21 August 2017, Donald Trump announced his new strategy for Afghan War and accused Pakistan of providing safe havens to terrorists. Moreover, Trump also urged India for its role in the war which was seen, by many in Pakistan, as an anti-Pak strategy. Trump’s speech led to the rise of anti-American sentiments in Pakistan. Two months later, Trump reconciled and tweeted that he was starting to develop “better relations with the Pakistani government”. Talibanisation is the direct result of US-led covert operations in the region. The destabilisation process, including covert support of terrorist groups as well the ongoing drone attacks, is a part of a longstanding US-led intelligence operationTalibanisation is the direct result of US-led covert operations. The destabilisation process, including covert support of terrorist groups as well the ongoing drone attacks, is part of a longstanding US-led intelligence operation. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto created conditions which contributed to the continuing destabilisation and fragmentation of Pakistan as a nation. The process of US-sponsored ‘regime change’, which normally targets the re-formation of a new proxy government under new leaders, has been broken. There are indications that the US officials anticipated the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It has been known for months that the Bush-Cheney administration and its allies had been manoeuvring to strengthen their political control of Pakistan, paving the way for the expansion and deepening of the ‘war on terrorism’ across the region. There were even reports of “chatter” among the US officials about the possible assassinations of either Pervez Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto, well before the actual attempts took place.Regime change in Pakistan with a view to ensuring continuity under military rule is no longer the main thrust of the US foreign policy. Washington’s foreign policy course is to actively promote the ‘selective political instability’ at the behest of India. New political leadership is anticipated but, in all likelihood, it will take on a very different shape as compared to previous US-sponsored regimes. One can expect that Washington will push for compliant political leadership, with no commitment to the national interest, a leadership which will serve the US imperial interests, while concurrently contributing under the disguise of ‘decentralisation’, to the weakening of the central government.The political impasse is deliberate. It is part of an evolving US foreign policy agenda, which favours disruption and disarray in the structures of the Pakistani state. Indirect rule by the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus is to be replaced by more direct forms of US interference, including an expanded US military presence inside Pakistan. This expanded military presence is also dictated by the Middle East and Central Asia geopolitical situation and Washington’s ongoing plans to extend the Middle East war to a much broader area.In a developing scenario, if the US faces further failures in Afghanistan, its future course of action may consist of fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup of Pakistan. This course of action is also dictated by the US war plans in relation to both Afghanistan and Iran. This US agenda for Pakistan would be similar to that applied throughout the broader Middle East-Central Asian regions. The more comprehensive objective would be to fracture the nation-state and redraw the borders of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.The writer served in Pakistan Army.Published in Daily Times, February 2nd 2018.