Every round of Pak-US dialogue, the third one beginning next week, provides an occasion to each side to squeeze out as many concessions from the other as it can. This requires a lot of haggling and recourse to direct and indirect pressures. As the talks proceed, negotiators from both sides have to keep an eye on public opinion at home where numerous lobbies and interest groups keep making all sorts of noises. The announcements subsequently made comprise of truths, half-truths and outright dissimulations.
There are expectations on both sides which, realistically speaking, can only be partly fulfilled. The talks provide an occasion to both sides to use their current bargaining position (which despite being permanently in favour of the US alters marginally at occasions to improve Pakistans standing) and allow it to extract the maximum from the other side. Pakistan wants the US to use its clout with India to get the Kashmir dispute resolved, sign a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan on the pattern of the Indo-US nuclear agreement, supply the latest weapons and provide aid worth billions of dollars for social development. The US wants Pakistan to urgently initiate a military operation in North Waziristan, help in capturing or eliminating OBL and top Al Qaeda leadership and refrain from supporting any terrorist group whatsoever. Meanwhile, elements in Pakistan would like the US to leave the region immediately while their American counterparts urge Washington to initiate military action inside Pakistans tribal areas where they believe Al Qaeda has set up offices. Unwilling to annoy India, Washington would not mention the K word in any official statement, sign a nuclear deal or agree to sell weapons that could give Pakistan an edge over India.
The establishment in Pakistan thinks that it holds a crucial position in the eyes of the US only as long as the terrorists are not wiped out from the region and this is the best time to wring out whatever concessions it can. Many in Pakistan would wait to see what their negotiators manage to get for the people of the country in return for Islamabads cooperation in the fight against terrorists as a result of which they have suffered the most