The US Secretary Defence is reported to have decided to withhold $300 million in aid to Pakistan to ‘change in its behaviour’ towards the US conceived and designed War on Terror. As a Pakistani I could be somewhat indignant but actually there is a seeping sense of relief. Relief from the yoke of an alien war that has eaten the very roots of our state and society; A US war that we have been at great pains to own , indigenise and then contest with our blood and sweat. A deadly conflict that we dragged into our heartland and have suffered over 80,000 killed and continuing besides letting militancy soak our social fabric in blood. To add insult to injury every time US leaders, administration and failed generals in Afghanistan turn around and ask us to ‘do more’ they actually blame Pakistan for their failures .They very conveniently, with a straight face like to overlook the fact that the Pakistan Armed Forces single-handedly wiped out all the terror vipers that US had dumped in FATA. Their dens and support networks were cleansed in less than two years which US along with their 43 allied countries in Afghanistan could not do in 17 years. Pakistan can help impart a lesson or two on how to successfully fight and eliminate terrorists. However there are certain aspects of this rather undiplomatic, in fact, awfully arrogant declaration which needs attention. First, the timing, it follows immediately after the controversy thrown up by Secretary Pompeo’s disputable phone call to Imran Khan on the same subject. It reinforces US’ self-righteous hubris and their chronic search for a scapegoat to pin their monumental military failure in Afghanistan. Change of behaviour is badly needed at your end General Mattis, if I may. Bullying Pakistan is counter-productive and losing her could turn into a nightmare for you Secondly, seeking a ‘change of behaviour’ from Pakistan by dangling a few dollars in its face is a highly crude and brazen demand. As a rule, American leaderships and upstart administration officials were never known for their diplomatic civility towards the world at large but particularly towards Pakistan. They want to test the waters with the new government in Pakistan and may have made a drastic mistake in that. One should never test water which is boiling hot; it can singe fingers badly. Thirdly the core of this demand tends to place Pakistan in the company of client states who wage wars on the behest of the US. This again is an issue which has its roots in the US’ very origin of nation hood. The US and Australia were populated by European castaways who carried similar scars on their psyches to the inhospitable foreign lands. While the Australians have largely overcome the trauma of mass rejection at home and forced asylum, the Americans particularly their political hierarchies are seemingly still groping to climb out of their paid migrations which are buried deep in their sub conscious. They bought their freedom and then fought viciously to keep it. There was nothing sublime about it but savage self-preservation. Evolution of civilisation or graceful social order had little or no role to play. A minority class of erudite and conscientious people did try to inject sanity into the American madness but with limited success. Consequently, guns have continued to dominate the pen till today. Coming back to the amazing temerity of the demand itself, It is coarse, uncut and in very poor taste. Let’s say if Pakistan does not oblige, all the US can do is to push it to the verge of economic collapse. Do they realise the implications of this coercion? I suspect not. In the enormous chaos which could break out, Russo-Chinese alliance would be the first to move in. Under no circumstances would they condone an uncontrollable turbulence in their immediate and sensitive back yard. The US will permanently lose a country of tremendous strategic significance in the region. They ought to be mindful that Pakistan has been irreversibly woven into the region’s geo-strategic calculations and its shudder can rock the entire regional equilibrium and beyond. Resultantly US will remain embroiled in the region far beyond its financial and political endurance. The US should have read the country’s mood. For quite some time Pakistani military and political leadership has been saying that it was US’ turn to do more. Not only that but what has not been said so clearly is, why did they fail to seal off the Afghan border when the Pakistan Army was steam rolling terrorists and their bases in FATA? Why have they and their poor extension ANSF harboured TTP fugitives and escapees in the bordering provinces of Nangrahar, Kunar and Noristan from where they are being helped to launch terror attacks inside Pakistan? Occasional killing of TTP commanders or redundant leaders like Mullah Fazlullah is not enough. Let’s see you mounting an equally massive and determined offensive against them. Change of behaviour is badly needed at your end General Mattis, if I may. Bullying Pakistan is counter-productive and losing her could turn into a nightmare. Your country’s future security depends largely on successfully rebalancing Asia which could be irreparably jeopardised. Think it over. The writer can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, September 4th 2018.