The words “two steps forward and four steps backward” accurately portray current dynamics in Pak-US relations. Since January 1, 2018 when US President Donald Trump in his tweet accused Pakistan of letting down his country in the war on terror till the issuance of joint statement on September 6 after talks between the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis with their Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi, there have been more downs than ups in Pak-U.S relations. It took Pakistan’s Foreign Office a week to react and reject the Indo-US joint statement in which the two countries had expressed their concern over the alleged use of ‘terrorist proxies’ by Pakistan in the region and both countries urged Pakistan to “bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot, Uri, and other cross-border terrorist attacks” to justice. Furthermore, in the same joint statement the US conveyed the need for Islamabad to take “sustained and decisive measures” against suspected terrorist havens in the country.It is ironic that the official Pakistani reaction on Indo-US joint statement came on September 13, a week after the issuance of that statement. In a press briefing in Islamabad on September 13, Foreign Office spokesperson rejected the US’s allegations and said that “we have conveyed our position to the US side” and stated that “mentioning a third country with unsubstantiated accusations in a formal outcome document was inconsistent with established diplomatic norms.” Most unfortunate part of joint statement targeting Pakistan was that it was issued despite the claims made by Foreign Minister that an impasse in Pak-US relations has broken following talks in Islamabad between the US delegation led by its Secretary of State and the Pakistani side led by the Prime Minister. If the impasse had been broken as a result of Pompeo’s visit to Islamabad and that the understanding reached in Islamabad that the two sides will not resort to ‘blame game’ then why did the Indo-US joint communique accuse Pakistan of using its territory to launch terrorist attacks in other countries?Unlike India, Pakistan never tried to establish its industrial base and follow a policy of self-relianceThe Indo-US nexus is a reality and can rightly be called a major failure of Pakistan’s diplomacy for three reasons. First, during the cold war years, Pakistan acted as a frontline state and an ally of the US by joining anti-communist alliances like CENTO and SEATO. Following the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, again Pakistan acted as a frontline state and became a strategic ally to the US by allowing CIA to launch its biggest covert operation against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan by providing billions of dollars in weapons to the Afghan Mujahideen. At this time, India was on the opposite side of the fence as it pursued a pro-Soviet policy. It was Pakistan which acted as a bridge state between Washington and Peking in 1971 and paid the price by antagonizing both the Soviet Union and India as the two countries had hostile relations with Communist China. It was Pakistan’s diplomatic failures that resulted in India getting closer to America, eventually to enter a strategic relationship with Washington by signing a nuclear deal in 2005. India used its diplomatic skills to seek benefits from America at Pakistan’s expense, despite the fact that it was Pakistan which had sided with the US during the cold war years and not India. If Pakistan was let down by the US it was because of the failure of its decision-makers to understand the changed dynamics after the end of the cold war and 9/11.Unlike India, Pakistan never tried to establish its industrial base and follow a policy of self-reliance. Pakistan’s import and aid driven economy weakened its position at the domestic and international level and compelled Islamabad to compromise on its national interests while seeking bailout packages from the IMF and seeking loans from various international donors including World Bank and Asian Development Bank. On the other hand, India concentrated on its economy and continued with its policy of self-reliance. As a result, when India opened up its economy in 1991, it had a sound industrial base and its economy grew by 10 percent. India’s Foreign Exchange Reserves now stand at $400 billion and its economic growth rate is 7.4 percent, which is almost equal to China. India has been earning around $25 billion annually from tourism and earns $30 billion from Foreign Direct Investment. With these facts in mind, India has been able to lure in major powers, gaining political mileage and strategic space. In view of these ground realities, America sees more benefits in tilting towards India than Pakistan. Third, US sees India as a potential ally against China and Pakistan’s growing strategic dependence on Beijing and CPEC are seen as a matter of concern by the two sides. By taking a hard stance against Pakistan in their joint communique, India and the US want to give a categorical message to Islamabad, that they have zero tolerance for Pakistan’s failure to dismantle terrorist networks targeting American interests in Afghanistan and India’s military in Jammu & Kashmir.According to critics, Pakistan is now reaping the harvest of supporting Jihadi groups as it faces the threat from Financial Action Task Force (FATF) of putting the country from grey to black list; growing Indo-U.S nexus and gradual isolation at the international level. This alarming situation has not had much impact on those who are supposed to provide a sense of direction to our Foreign Policy.In order to gain space at the international level and to effectively deal with the Indo-US courtship, Pakistan must get rid of its baggage of the past as it is still blamed for nourishing and patronising various religious extremist groups and jihadi forces. Images of jihadi groups chanting slogans against the US and the West further strengthen the argument against Pakistan. Most importantly, Pakistan must put its own house in order by focusing on economic growth, human and social development, ensuring rule of law, justice and good governance by eradicating corruption and nepotism. Only then will Pakistanis feel secure and be respected at the international level.The writer is Meritorious Professor of International Relations at the University of Karachi and can reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, September 21st 2018.