Pakistan´s PM Yousaf Raza Gillani has talked of building a sustainable relationship with America. Sec. Rice has grudgingly recognized role of winning hearts and minds in Islamabad´s struggle to secure peace in its northern areas. In a parallel development Russian president Medvedev in his statement, Russia-China ties key to global stability has supported international law and called for ´decisive role of UN´. Earlier, Medvedev after taking over as president of Russia had promised positive progress on human rights.

Jonathan Steel, the author of ´Russia and EU need New Partnership Deal´ (May 24, Arab News) called for end of 1990´s idea of ´neo-containment´ seeking isolation of Russia and undermining efforts to develop ´strategic partnership´ between EU and Russia. Medvedev, promising to work on human rights issues has left West scrambling for a new strategy which had been using human rights abuses in Russia to secure its strategic economic, political and security interests at the global level. The article concludes on a positive note that interaction between Russia and the EU is bound to develop.

With this prologue I will base an argument based on triangle of information that should help Islamabad determine country´s foreign policy to protect national economy and sovereignty. The Future of US Foreign Policy by Daniel Drezner, a 25 page article forms one corner of the triangle, Imbalance of Power by Thomas Friedman forms the second corner of the triangle and Pakistan´s economic policy direction so as to determine country´s foreign policy will form the third corner of the triangle.

Daniel Drezner in the concluding section of the article under ´American Foreign Policy in 2009´ argues that new US president will scale down use of military force subject to, ´whether any more shocks to the system occur, such as a sequel to the Sept. 11 attacks´. Drezner argues that in post Nov. presidential election America there will be in all likelihood an effort to reach out to European leaders. It is an 180-degree shift in American Foreign Policy that Drezner is talking about, which in my view is beyond powers of US president alone for following reasons:- 1) Both Republican and Democratic Party presidential candidates and leaderships are not talking about across the board upholding global human rights including EU and UN Human Rights Charters and Geneva Convention. 2) Restoring constitutional liberties of American citizens including Bill of Rights and scrapping Freedom of Information Act which was primarily put in place in 1962 to gag anti-Vietnam war coverage and is being used to deter objective coverage of Iraq war and in turn undermine Freedom of Speech act in Bill of Rights.

3) The composition of key players formulating US foreign policy as given in 16th edition of Govt. by the People shows that it is non-elected people who surround US president in the foreign policy decision making constituting foreign policy advisors, the National Security Council, the State Dept., the Foreign Service, the Intelligence and the CIA. History shows that The Senate and Congress foreign relations committees have been used to gag public opinion instead of upholding public opinion. The opinion poll ratings hovering around 80% opposing Iraq war are cases in point. The book details following US foreign policy strategies: conventional diplomacy; foreign aid; economic sanctions; political coercion; covert operations and military interventions as part of security and liberty: not by force alone.

It brings Steele´s call to EU to open up with Russia and Medvedev´s pro-human rights stance under spotlight. In my article UK: Brown in Asia (25 Jan.) predicted two things: 1) EU leaders will distance themselves from Bush´s open ended illegal war against terrorism, which in turn will derail NATO alliance in Afghanistan. The cases in point are: a) reports to enhance troops Afghanistan reflects Washington´s failure to win support of its allies and a signal that isolated America will ´continue the flawed occupation without support of its NATO allies. b) Growing China-Japan relations. c) Washington urging Tokyo to spend more on defense. 2) European leaders will avoid pitching their governments against local legal, constitutional and judicial systems, media and local and international watch groups.

Medvedev by promising to improve country´s progress on universal human rights has taken the foreign policy initiative from US in all probability to achieve following strategic objectives: 1) improve Russia´s image in Europe to secure trade, commerce and economic interests. 2) Douse western media´s anti-Russia campaign based on human rights violations. 3) Mask Chechnya issue. 4) Force pro-US European leadership to abandon criticism of Moscow. In all probability, Rice´s distrust and David Miliband´s reaffirmation of his country´s support for the new Pakistani government´s multi-pronged strategy towards anti-state elements mirror the difference in European and American approach towards terrorism.

However, I for one will not rule out ´good cop, bad cop´ strategy in this case where for time being London is playing as good cop. Islamabad should keep its eyes open to Drezner´s warning of ´sequel to Sept. 11 attacks´ amidst growing reports in western media showing biased concerns about Pakistani tribal areas, which has more to do with protecting Republicans interests in Nov. 08 American presidential election and keeping world attention from continuation of Afghan occupation for another decade or two.

Islamabad should therefore take following steps to end such speculations: 1) relocate its forces from built-up areas to borders in Northern Areas and Baluchistan. 2) Fence critical areas. Reportedly, America has erected 485-mile long fence on its Mexican borders in just eight months. It is about time policy makers rush to seal its borders with Afghanistan and global community including EU assist Islamabad to seal its border to end baseless speculations. 3) Demand withdrawal of NATO forces to end indigenous Afghan resistance against foreign occupation whose spillover is adversely affecting Pakistan´s strategic security, economic and trade interests. The spillover is forcing Islamabad to feed and support war-ravaged economy, hapless millions on both sides of Pak-Afghan border hungry and homeless. Islamabad should end borrowing, use of aid and tax money to support flawed American policies in the region because Pakistan is an independent state not an American buffer state in Asia. The earlier Islamabad realizes it the better.

In Friedman´s Imbalance of power, the writer has talked about Zakaria´s "The Post American world" and "Superclass" by David RothKopf. It is therefore time that Islamabad adopts independent foreign policy to protect country´s sovereignty and economic interests instead of turning the country into an aid dependent buffer state for ´neo-conservative elite´ led capitalism using globalization, IMF, WB and privatization policies. It will compromise public´s religious and constitutional rights to job, food, health care, education, dignity of work and security. Neo-cons failure to uphold US Supreme Court´s 1936 "New Deal" judgment protecting individuals against capitalism is case in point.

Islamabad therefore needs to tailor domestic economy according to local strengths including argi and manufacturing instead of capitalist based ´unchecked´ free economy, corrupt banking system and mostly tax evasive private businesses. It is only possible with free foreign policy. The growing oil prices, 123 billion dollar profit of five US oil companies in 2007 and reported 35 billion dollar profit in first quarter of 2008 are cases in point of free economy. The public sector energy sector in Russia, China, Gulf States and Latin American States have reduced fuel prices.

Finally, there will be little change in current US foreign policy in 2009 or beyond because Washington will continue to protect American economic interests. Human Rights and Geneva Convention; stronger international platforms including UN, ICJ and EU; independent judiciaries; media freedom and FOIA will remain at crossroads with American interests in immediate terms and coming decades. Islamabad therefore should avoid making open-ended commitments to protect its national interests including regional stakes and strategic economic, political and security objective. However, somewhere in all this it is hoped that Democratic Party will play it role to help revive country´s image by supporting human rights and international platforms to match Medvedev´s clarion call that distinguishes modern world from dark ages where might was right: A hope that Friedman could not highlight in Zakaria´s work!

Writer´s Comments:

1. In my view, if US wants to hold high moral ground in its pursuit to win hearts and minds and economic interests in rest of the world it has to respect International Human Rights, International Platforms including International Court of Justice.

2. Similarly, due to growing support for human rights and international platforms in rest of the world including EU, Russia and China the ongoing two US wars and domestic policies undermining US constitution including Bill of Rights will turn into a deeper challenge for next US administration.A glimpse of challenge for America is visible in 'Secret Law' under latest media on The Democratic Party therefore has to take a clear stand on ending wars, Human Rights and restoring efficacy of international platforms for national and collective good of global community and security.

3. This article has also been published in Pakistan Observer