An American high school teacher, who is friend of mine was going about her schedule of teaching classes one fine morning. She glimpsed her colleague teaching a class with a world map displayed on the board. My friend saw something unusual in the map. Pakistan was placed next to Saudi Arabia. After the class ended, she tried to correct her colleague that Pakistan was actually in South Asia and not in the Middle East. The misinformed colleague’s source of information was the fact that Osama Bin Laden was a Saudi and he was killed in Pakistan. I have interacted with various layers and classes of the American society. The ones at the bottom of the graph in terms of education never surprised me much with their sheer ignorance about world affairs. It was always the educated class; the professors, the students, the journalists that left me flabbergasted with their misinformed opinions about Pakistan. The mindset of the American academia and journalism could easily be summed up as America is a force for the good of the world, bringing stability and helping people achieve freedom and democracy. Whereas the Iranians, the North Koreans, the Chinese, the Russians, the Cubans, the Venezuelans, the Pakistanis and so forth are bad guys. Upon walking into Barnes & Noble on any given day, one finds books about Pakistan on front display next to fiction books with typical American favourite titles such as what do men like in women? or how to stay romantic after 50? The books about Pakistan are titled in the most typical manner-such as ‘Pakistan — A Dangerous Country’ or the ‘most dangerous country’ or ‘a hard country or where Mullah and Madrassa rule’ and so forth- delineating the opinionated boring narrative inside of them. In documentary films, when the scene turns to Pakistan, the music and the hue of the film turn grim. Bearded men with Ak-47 with horrible facial expressions, broken down houses, dirty streets take over the entire scene of the film. I have been working on a documentary film about US-Pakistan relations for which I interviewed people from many walks of the American life including library workers, school teachers, university professors, students, school bus drivers, everyday Americans in the park enjoying a nice evening. A common question asked from everyone I talked to was what comes to mind upon hearing the word Pakistan? The most common answers included, a country where Bin Laden lived, a country where people kill in the name of Allah, a country where girls are not allowed to go to school. While teaching in America, many times I displayed to my students beautiful pictures of the northern areas of Pakistan without revealing the identity of the place. Then I would ask them to guess the place. The most common answers included Sweden, Switzerland or some place cool. Even when I showed them pictures of Fatima Jinnah Park in Islamabad, they thought it was Colorado. The mesmerising view of Margalla hills from the park could easily be mistaken for the Rocky Mountains. Bad Pakistan sells and ironically many Pakistanis contribute toward this more than anyone else. It was always the educated class; the professors, the students, the journalists that left me flabbergasted with their misinformed opinions about Pakistan On the other hand, the mistake Pakistan’s leadership always made was to see America as a country that can be a great source of what was in the early days of Pakistan called “borrowed power” to balance against an aggressive India. Moreover, the Pakistani leadership wanted the US financial aid flowing. The struggling economy stymied by corruption and defence needs needed financial assistance. The bargain of utility between Pakistan and America worked both ways. The new superpower on the world stage needed allies in the region for its grand strategy of containing the Soviet Union. Pakistan was tied in military alliances such as the Baghdad Pact, SEATO and so forth, preventing it from embracing communism. The U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers — captured by the Russians, triggering the U-2 incident between Eisenhower and Khrushchev- had taken off in his spy plane from a town in Peshawar called Badaber. Powers was later swapped with Rudolf Ivanovich Abel. Pakistan played the pivotal role for Nixon and Kissinger to normalise America’s relations with China. In the immediate post Cold War world, Pakistan was slapped with Pressler amendment even though President Reagan knew full well that General Zia was developing the nuclear weapons but looked the other way due to Pakistan’s utility in giving the Soviets their Vietnam. Post 9/11, Pakistan was an ally again after it was told to “Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the stone-age” if Pakistan chose not to support America’s war on terror. Ever since, Pakistan’s utility has been to support America’s war on terror. Pakistan has received US aid in the billions. Truth be told, much of it has been reimbursement for the services that the Pakistan army has provided to the US government. Abandoning the Haqqani Network has been a constant US demand and a major source of contention between the US-Pakistan relations. While disciplined scholars, graduating from Ivy League schools, might publish books in the future about ‘who lost Pakistan?’ the reality is that America is pushing Pakistan further into the arms of China and Russia. Showing support for India and hurling opprobrium toward Pakistan by accusing it of “lies and deceit”, grey-listing it, suspending the Coalition Support Fund and so forth do not bode well for this relationship that has been complicated at best for many years now. The expectations and the dynamics of the alliance must go through an overhaul where Pakistan must not judge America as a superpower, which has to dole out greenbacks and a country that’s in alliance with its enemy India and for America to stop seeing Pakistan as a pro-China country, which will provide some kind of service for America’s nefarious interests. There has to be much more to this relationship than just money, China, India, and terrorism. Most importantly they’re not passengers headed for the same destination. Their aims and interests are different. None can be expected to sacrifice their interests for the other. Let us pray that sanity instead of belligerence would prevail. The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter @Imran_Jan Published in Daily Times, September 28th 2018.