US defence secretary-designate James Mattis has said that the Trump administration would offer incentives to Pakistan to cooperate with the United States on critical issues. While we could try to be hopeful of resetting the button on the relationship with the US, the new administration has made clear a continuation of the existing US mantra regarding Pakistan; “Do more while we continue to ignoring the sacrifices you have made so far.”

At his confirmation hearing at the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Thursday afternoon, Mr Mattis declared the following, “If confirmed, I will work with the State Department and the Congress to incentivise Pakistan’s cooperation on issues critical to our national interests and the region’s security, with focus on Pakistan’s need to expel or neutralise externally-focused militant groups that operate within its borders.” His words do not address the massive achievements that have been made during the Zarb-e-Azb operation as expected since the US Congress is always quick to criticise and slow to acknowledge efforts. Pakistan may not have gotten rid of all its banned outfits, but it has most definitely made a valiant effort to clear out all the terrorist safe havens in the FATA, and does not allow terrorists to use its soil to launch attacks against other countries. The twin suicide attacks near the parliament in Kabul were inflicted by the Taliban from within Afghanistan’s territory and it is high time it takes responsibility for its failings.

What is more frustrating is that the US endorsed Kabul’s claim that the existence of safe havens in FATA allowed terrorists to carry out attacks inside Afghanistan whenever they want. Pakistan has repeatedly conveyed to the United States that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) are patronising terrorists groups to attack soft targets in the country, and no words have been said to condemn these subversive activities taking place in the country.

Pakistan has lost thousands of its citizens and suffered economic losses of over $100 billion due to terrorism. The country is doing its best to overcome a problem that is both deep rooted and complex. External pressure only serves to frustrate these efforts. Pakistan is constantly berated by the US, and condition upon condition is thrust upon it. This does nothing to improve the perception Pakistanis have of the US, and worsens the situation for those advocating an end to terrorism, as they are labelled pro-West or anti-Islam. The US has to switch gears and learn from Russian and Chinese foreign policy vis a vis Pakistan, if it wants to change this antagonistic relationship and make any headway into ending terrorism in the region.