The meeting between US Vice President Mike Pence and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was significant for a variety of reasons, one of which is that both are powerless leaders whose strings are pulled by those above them. In Pence’s case, it is a self-proclaimed ‘stable genius’ who just days ago filed a lawsuit against adult actress Stormy Daniels for leaking the secret affair, thereby violating the “hush agreement” that required her to remain silent about her affair with Trump. Pence’s boss is also facing a penetrating investigation regarding his collusion with the Russians during his campaign. Abbasi’s boss is a disqualified politician who is known to have stolen the nation’s money. Abbasi himself is on his way out. Yet, somehow the meeting between the two men attracted significant media hype. It is unclear why. The meeting had the flair and flavour of newness and freshness. It sounded different and had hopes of some hope. But then returned the ‘do more’ in style vividly reminiscent of those commercial ads disrupting an otherwise great Eid night show. However, we must give it to Pence that he wrapped up the ‘do more’ in relatively new cover. He told Abbasi that Pakistan “must do more”. Now, that is quite a new way of demanding ‘do more’ from Pakistan. I wonder if it reminded Abbasi of his school lessons where he had to memorise and repeat the same thing over and over to his teachers satisfying their rote culture addiction. It doesn’t require exceptional shrewdness to understand the fact that in the War on Terror, Pakistan’s interests can hardly be parallel to those of America’s, even if they claim otherwise A few hours after the meeting, one of the Trump officials pointed out that Trump wanted Pakistan to do more than the “bare minimum”. The official also added that “It’s Pakistan’s choice in which direction it wants to take the future of the relationship”. Basically, what it means is that Pakistan should either choose to obey the imperial nation’s orders neglecting its own national interests and security needs or choose to pursue its own selfish interests, thereby acting like any other normal state in the world. The latter obviously invites the Emperor’s wrath, which could either be ‘necessary steps’ or as the same official said, “President has made it clear that he is not satisfied with the actions Pakistan has taken so far. We have communicated what we mean by decisive action”. In the United States media and scholarship, this ability to issue threats and back them up with action is called ‘credibility’, a dear trait of Washington. The American interests in Afghanistan change with the weather. Although many facts related to the US involvement in Afghanistan are down the Orwellian memory hole, if memory serves us well then it can be recalled that the Bush administration ‘believed’ that Al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 attacks. It threatened the Taliban to hand over Bin Laden. They demanded evidence of Al Qaeda’s role in 9/11, which was a reasonable demand. The Bush administration refused to share any evidence and invaded the country because the uncivilised demanded evidence of wrongdoing and the civilised, who thought their rule of law was hated by the uncivilised, refused to respect the rule of law. Later the war aim became the dismantlement of Al Qaeda. The latest aim is the protection of its personnel as well as ending the war, not winning it. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said, “Let’s not remain prisoners of the past and let’s secure our future with the aim not to win the war, but to end it, for which Pakistan should help [Afghanistan]”. It requires no extra talent to decipher that Pakistan’s interests can hardly be parallel to those of America’s in the war against terror in this region despite their claims of striving to achieve the same goals. Pakistan’s prime minister in the meeting assured Pence of “Pakistan’s successes” in the war against terrorism. This is the most confusing part of this meeting that to my knowledge nobody touched upon. Why is Abbasi citing “Pakistan’s successes” to appease the Americans? Did Abbasi not understand that when two interests conflict, one’s success ensures the other’s decline? Or perhaps he was labelling America’s interests as ‘Pakistan’s success’, which would make sense if Pakistan was an abnormal state that protected and promoted America’s interests. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter @Imran_Jan Published in Daily Times, March 23rd 2018.