Just to set the record straight, wars in Afghanistan, whether Soviet invasion in the ’80s or the GWOT, has been immensely beneficial for Pakistan. Although what impact it had on the people of Pakistan is an entirely different conversation. Soviet invasion allowed Pakistan to gain crucial importance in global geo-strategic design, which came with a lot of perks. Pakistan developed its nuclear program under Chinese protection, gained massive military aid and equipment and developed these strategic assets called the Taliban; which incidentally are the same group, United States is at war against. Similarly, Pakistan was an international pariah after conducting a nuclear test in 1998, and even before that, United States-Pakistan relations were getting cold. Pakistan’s position of importance was over with the end of Cold War, and a policy of cutting Pakistan loose was adopted. 9/11 and subsequent GWOT, brought Pakistan back into the international community. It was conferred with a status of a major non-NATO ally in 2004. This process allowed Pakistan to modernise its defences considerably, which would have been impossible with sanctions and more importantly without American military aid and weapons. Now it seems that the US has finally realised, what a cluster mess, its Pakistan policy has been; as evident by the following tweet by US President Donald Trump: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” This is how President Trump wished Pakistan a very happy new year in 2018. This was followed by the administration’s decision to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan. It won’t take a genius to figure out that US-Pakistan relations are at, an all-time low. In Washington, there exist an overwhelmingly negative perception of Islamabad’s role, its perceived motives and actions in Afghanistan. However, Trump administration has indicated interest in engaging Pakistan, but only with, one-point agenda of the Afghan peace process; and apart from that, broader bilateral engagement remains cold. This interest was supplemented by foreign minister-level talks, in Islamabad and Washington respectively. However, this process seems to be making no progress. Washington demands that Islamabad should not only cut its support to Haqqani network but bring all the factions in Taliban to a peace process. A demand which Islamabad is not willing to meet. There are two components which will explain why Islamabad is not willing to meet it. Moreover, we examine what new policy, the US is employing to force Pakistan to cooperate. FATF actions must be seen with regards to updated American policy, which aims to hit Pakistan, where it hurt First, the perception that Islamabad or its intelligence apparatus control Taliban should be adjusted. The kind of influence, ISI used to enjoy over Taliban has been advancing slowly ever since; although it still exerts enough influence to hinder any peace process. In past, the US declared the Afghan conflict a definitive win through military means. Pakistan, however, has always opposed this policy and considered it detrimental to its national interest. After the death of Mullah Omar, subsequent divisions in Taliban, and Murree talks fiasco, Islamabad’s options are very limited, which will neither satisfy its own national interests nor address American concerns effectively. Second, Pakistan does not find it in its interest to act against the Haqqani network. It sounds irrational for Pakistan not to act against a terrorist organisation, which is a major factor in deteriorating US-Pakistan relations. In Pakistan, the question, what do Islamabad get out of cutting Haqqani network loose? Pakistani leadership considers their influence with Haqqani network as a strategic bargaining chip, similar to the use of their nuclear program; to get concessions from the international community. Just for the sake of understanding this rhetoric, it is necessary to look at this from Pakistani perceptive. The US has made it clear, that they are only interested in engaging Pakistan for the Afghan peace process and no deal which benefits Pakistan is in place. The way the US left Afghanistan last time, hasn’t aged well in Islamabad. They believe, American interests in Afghanistan diminished when the cold war ended, and they left all the mess for Islamabad to clean up; and there is a general acceptance in the strategic community, that something similar will happen again. The Trump administration has established it clearly, that it is not interested in playing games with Islamabad. It has been clearly conveyed to Pakistan that it’s not business as usual, their support for terrorist organisations in any way will not be tolerated. Pakistan is already placed on grey list by FATF for gross violations of terror financing and money laundering regime. This pressure of cutting Islamabad from global financial markets and banking system is the novelty in Trump’s Pakistan policy. This policy of financial and economic punishment can have devastating effects on the fragile Pakistani economy. It has been very effective against Iran; moreover, Pakistani economy is in a sheer state of disparity and cannot afford even a smallest of setback. This can be that one tool that the United States can use to force Pakistan to cooperate in the Afghan peace process. Islamabad was waiting for Washington to offer some deal based on its long wish list. Instead, Washington is going to create a massive cluster mess for Islamabad, and force Pakistan to converge its interests with that of the US. This is evident by developments emerged in recently concluded talks between FATF Asia Pacific delegation and Pakistani authorities. After months of discussions and the provision of ample time to curb and regulate terror financing, FATF is still not satisfied with the progress made by Pakistan. FATF actions must be seen with regards to updated American policy, which aims to hit Pakistan, where it hurts. The assassination of the Taliban’s foe, General Raziq, and father of Taliban, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq will have an immense effect on the Afghan peace process. General Raziq was a strongman who ruled southern Afghanistan with an iron fist. Islamabad considered him an agent of Indian intelligence, whose purpose was not just to antagonise Pakistan; but to hinder any peace process which can remotely benefit Islamabad. Similarly, on October 25, 2018, Pakistan released Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Kabul has been demanding his release for quite some time to aid the Afghan reconciliation process. These three major developments incurred in the span of just two weeks, which must be analysed in a broader South Asian regional context as well. Islamabad has been sceptical of Indian activities in Afghanistan and considers its presence detrimental to its national security. Regardless of the fact that there is any truth to these accusations, Pakistan has made it clear that they do not want to give New Delhi a seat in the Afghan peace process. The assassination of General Raziq and decision to release Mullah Baradar from captivity can be interpreted as Islamabad trying to ensure the US deal directly with Taliban with minimal Indian influence. What impact this policy will have on Pakistan’s behaviour will be seen in coming days. It is important to note that Pakistan has lost the opportunity to get any good deal, while the US has finally cracked Pakistan’s leverage and are now using it against them. For Pakistan, there are no good options, but survival which hinges on its financial stability, which is targeted by friends and foe alike. The writer is a graduate student at National Defence University who is currently working on his dissertation titled, “Shift in Pakistan’s Threat Spectrum” Published in Daily Times, March 3rd 2019.