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Instead of preparing for that time and pondering seriously over its options for that nottoo-distant scenario,

Pakistan has only voiced the fear that it could once more be abandoned by Washington and expressed nostalgia for the supposed good old times when the two counties were allies In his statement before the media after meeting !awa", #bama said that the $% &considers Pakistan to be a very important strategic partner' but in the same breath he spoke pointedly of misunderstandings and tensions between the two countries (rom what is known about !awa"s meetings with $% officials, it can be said that the $% side was )uite candid in raising its many concerns with him $nderlying these differences is the lack of a common strategic vision and goals for the wider region, which Washington shares increasingly with *elhi and which makes them partners in the true sense In his public remarks, #bama touched only obli)uely on the )uestion of drone strikes, saying that in partnering together to fight terrorism the two countries needed to continue to find constructive ways that respect Pakistans sovereignty as well as the concerns of &both countries' $% officials have since indicated that $% was still committed to the policy #bama announced in a speech last +ay in which he defended the drone programme as being in compliance with both $% and international law but laid out certain fresh guidelines for their use $nder this approach, drone attacks would be carried out only on &terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the ,merican people' and when there is &nearcertainty that no civilians will be killed or in-ured ' !awa" has given a more optimistic assessment on the drone issue .e told reporters last /hursday that the drone issue would &hopefully soon be resolved according to the wishes of the Pakistani people' /he expectation is that the fre)uency of drone strikes will be further scaled down /he ma-or positive outcome of the visit for Pakistan was that #bama acknowledged Pakistans interests and concerns in the transition in ,fghanistan 0esides making a pledge to brief Pakistan as this process moves forward and on a &long-term strategy for stability in the region', he also expressed confidence in being able to &achieve a goal that is good for ,fghanistan but also helps to protect Pakistan ' %ome $% officials have in the past admitted grudgingly that India is using ,fghan soil to stir up trouble in Pakistan $% ,fPak envoy *obbins, for instance, said in an interview with the 001 last ,ugust that Pakistans concerns over Indias presence in ,fghanistan were &not groundless', though they were &exaggerated'

&We recognise', *obbins said, &that there is some infiltration of hostile militants from 2,fghanistan into Pakistan3 ' 0ut #bamas comments on seeking an outcome in ,fghanistan that &protects Pakistan' are perhaps the first public admission, howsoever indirect, by a $% president that Pakistan faces a threat emanating from ,fghan soil that it needs to guard against /he positive tone of #bamas remarks on Pakistans stakes in the peace and stability of ,fghanistan and the absence of any public name-calling by $% officials during !awa"s visit on safe havens in Pakistan for the ,fghan /aliban is in welcome contrast to their past behaviour It would not have been possible without our support to the ,fghan reconciliation and peace process that Washington has been trying to put in place for more than a year #n Pakistan-India relations, #bama fulfilled the promise he made to +anmohan last month by taking up the )uestions of the trial of those implicated in the +umbai terrorist attack, the activities of 4amaat-ud-*awah and the case of .afi" %aeed In his statement after the meeting, the $% president also spoke about the &export' of terrorism from Pakistan to other countries In response, !awa" told #bama that the issue of terrorism is of as much concern to Pakistan as to India if not more .e could also have reminded the $% president that the trial in India of the perpetrators of the %am-hauta 5xpress bombing, which took place 67 months before +umbai, has been proceeding at a suspiciously leisurely pace and has also not been concluded as yet, even though the crime was committed in India and all the witnesses are within the country #bama was full of praise for !awa"s commitment to reduce tensions with India, describing it as &a very wise path' and in this context mentioned the Pakistan prime ministers meeting with his Indian counterpart last month /he main tangible achievement of that meeting was an agreement to restore peace and tran)uillity on the 8o1 0ut since then, there have been fresh incidents of 8o1 violation !awa" asked the $% to use its influence to encourage Pakistan-India dialogue to resolve outstanding issues and on 8o1 violations Washington predictably reaffirmed its position that while it is prepared to use its influence to encourage improvement in Pakistan-India relations, it will not play a direct role , day before !awa"s visit, the #bama government also reaffirmed its stance on 9ashmir, saying that it is for Pakistan and India to determine the &pace, scope and character of their dialogue' on the issue !evertheless, !awa" did well to bring up 9ashmir in his meeting with #bama .is call for a $% role in resolving the dispute is, however, another matter 8ike his obsession with &picking up the threads of dialogue with India from where he left off in 6777', !awa"s repeated appeals for a $% role in settling the 9ashmir issue is a hangover from his last term of office !ot only is Washington now completely dismissive of the idea, any $% involvement, in

the highly unlikely event that it takes place, is likely to go in Indias favour !awa" should, therefore, stop harping on this proposal and instead spend his efforts and those of his government on raising the issue of the right of self-determination and other human rights of the 9ashmiris in international fora, as Pakistan used to do till :;;< In his remarks after the meeting with #bama, !awa" said that the two leaders had discussed a &common vision' to build robust bilateral cooperation .e also spoke of Pakistans desire for a broad-based, stable and enduring partnership !awa"s visit shows how far we still are from that goal 0ut it served to remove some of the mistrust between the two sides on ways of bringing peace and stability to ,fghanistan /his should help smooth the ongoing transition in ,fghanistan, a matter of vital interest to Pakistan (orging a common vision for the post-:;6< period will be an even more difficult task and may be left for the future /he writer is a former member of the Pakistan (oreign %ervice 5mail= asife"di>yahoo com