John Bolton assumed office as a new National Security Adviser of the Trump administration on April 9, 2018. Since his name resurfaced after fifteen years, a number of articles has been written that argue that Bolton holds radical views on foreign policy issues. Not to forget his interview/speech in which he described Pakistan as Iran or North Korea on steroids, in case the nuclear weapons fall in terrorists’ hands. This begs a question, what the US expects Pakistan to do, and in order for Pakistan to meet the expectations, what policy instruments has the US used (or is it likely to use)? The primary US concern is Pakistan’s alleged assistance to Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network. Issues of Hafiz Saeed and Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) or Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are arguably supplementary pressure-maximising tools. In this regard, the US has recently used various pressure tactics. It suspended financial reimbursements for Pakistan’s military expenses incurred in fighting terrorists. The US also lobbied in Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to put Pakistan on terror-financing grey-list. It sanctioned seven Pakistani companies over alleged nuclear trade and sanctioned individuals and organisations over their association with the LeT and JuD.If these measures fail, according to a Foreign Policy article, the US may take further actions. It may have recourse to a complete stoppage of financial military sales. It may cancel Pakistan’s status of a Major non-NATO Ally. It may also use its influence in the World Bank and the IMF against providing loans to Pakistan. And, as a last resort, Pakistan’s name may be added to the list of countries sponsors of terrorism. Pakistani state officials maintain that after the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad, Pakistan dismantled Taliban sanctuaries, and would never allow its territory to be used against another state. Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa stated in the Munich Security Conference that the state has the monopoly over violence and that extremists had no role in the country whatsoever.Alice Wells, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, in her recent interview to an Indian newspaper The Hindu, considered General Bajwa’s remarks as heartening. She repeatedly maintained that whether it was about facilitating Afghan peace process or taking action against terrorists, the US believed in engagement with Pakistan and that the process requires patience. Besides supporting diplomatic engagement for peace and stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan also seeks to pursue a soft approach against extremist elements at homeTherefore, as Bolton warned, putting excessive pressure on Pakistan would result in a negative reaction. For instance, it might close Ground/Air Lines of Communication through which the US supplies logistics to its forces in Afghanistan. It may also stop intelligence cooperation, and become more aligned with China and Russia. It may be interesting to note that these countries are considered by the US its primary security concerns instead of terrorism, according to its 2018-National Security Strategy.However, is the confrontational approach the only way that Pakistan can respond to the US pressure? Not really. Pakistan has been cooperating with the US for a political settlement of Afghanistan conundrum. Pakistan has been emphasising for decades that the US must engage with all ethnic communities in Afghanistan and not merely the Northern Alliance.In the same spirit, Pakistan has also argued against the military option to seek stability in Afghanistan. The US’ support of Afghan government’s peace offer to Taliban for their political integration is in a way reflective of acknowledgement of Pakistan’s efforts for Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process.Besides supporting diplomatic engagement for peace and stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan also seeks to pursue a soft approach against extremist elements at home. Pakistan has taken various Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures. These include tightened internal control on all of the banking transactions to ensure full compliance with AML and CFT regime. Besides, a Presidential Ordinance automatically outlaws UN-proscribed organisations and individuals.Pakistani government put UN-outlawed Hafiz Saeed under house arrest and seized his charities. Lahore High Court, however, pronounced its judgment against his house arrest on the basis of insufficient evidence and asked the Punjab government to submit solid evidence on why the government sought to arrest him or seize his charities.In practical terms, therefore, there are quite a few challenges for implementing all these decisions taken by the government. These organisations and individuals have got some mass support, manifest in their organised participation in the electoral process, although their vote bank is not large enough to win elections.Essentially, terrorist groups pose an ideological threat to the world, which requires an ideological counter-narrative.A discourse was created in the 1980s by collective efforts of the US, Saudi Arabia and other states that promoted the Jihadi culture in Pakistan to contain Soviet communist expansion. The religious fanatic discourse was institutionalised in Pakistan, which affected the citizenry deeply at the grass-roots level. Such a mindset cannot be changed overnight; instead, a sustained effort has to be made in this regard.Pakistan has been trying through its National Action Plan and other non-kinetic means to deconstruct the extremist discourse and reconstruct a progressive mindset. As Alice Wells stated in her interview, this is a process and it requires patience from the international community. It requires constant diplomatic engagement and security and economic cooperation among the stakeholders.The writer is a Research Assistant, CISS, IslamabadPublished in Daily Times, April 24th 2018.