The $800 million of aid that the Americans have decided to hold back out of $2 billion earmarked for Pakistan Army should not be taken as a punitive measure that it is intended to be. Instead, it should be treated as a golden opportunity to get out of the intricate web of Western aid, especially of the US and international financial institutions like the IMF. It might at first sight appear a tall order because of the huge amount that we owe to these institutions. However, the American aid should correctly be called only a partial reimbursement of the expenditure and losses that Pakistan bears in prosecuting the war on terror. No doubt, it is fairly substantial in commitment, but is charily delivered. If we were to coolly take into account the human and natural resources the country possesses and if we were able to manage to eliminate the corrosive disease of corruption afflicting our polity, it should not be too difficult for us to manage without these financial hand-outs that come with a lot of painful strings. Fortunately, we have a tried and tested friend, China, to fall back upon. For any shortfall, as an unnamed Pakistani official observed in reaction to the announcement made by White House Chief of Staff William Daley to withhold the aid, we can fill the gap from Beijing, which has time and again expressed its readiness to help us stand on our feet. Only the hesitation of our West-leaning ruling circles has stood against the development of Pak-China relations to the great potential that they have. Another story in TheNation yesterday quoted Director General of Three Gorges Corporation of China Wang Shoofeng as assuring that it could help Pakistan raise its generation capacity by 10,000MW within the next 10 years. Meanwhile, military sources have asserted that they should be able to continue fighting the war without the US help. We must realise that lesser reliance on the US would also facilitate our breaking free from its suffocating embrace. It has made us suffer the humiliation of an open violation of sovereignty and poses a threat to our security. It should be remembered that the cut in aid neatly fits in with the aggressive policies of President Obama. Our strong reaction to the murder of two Pakistanis by CIA contractor Raymond Davis and the clandestine nightly raid to take out Al-Qaeda chief, the arrogant and domineering posture of Secretary Clinton, Army Chief Mullen and Senator Kerry towards Pakistan, the US anger at our insistence to withdraw 100 US spies operating in the garb of trainers and the strict restriction we have imposed on the number of visas issued to US personnel all these are manifestations of a bilateral relations threatening to break under the strain. Let us not buckle under the pressure of this onslaught and like a self-respecting nation boldly bear it and set our sights on further strengthening our ties with genuine friends like China, others in the Muslim world and beyond.