The meeting in Islamabad on Thursday between Pakistani COAS Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISAF Afghanistan Commander Gen John Allen and the visit to Washington of DG ISI indicates a return to nervous equilibrium between the US and Pakistan. Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam, on the same day met Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Robert Grossman and the President’s special coordinator for the two countries, Lt Gen Douglas E. Lute. The visit by General Islam is given importance not merely because it is the first since he took office earlier this year in the middle of the crisis, but because it signals intelligence sharing between the two frontline allies may be a more confident exercise than before. He is also expected to take up one of the biggest irritants in the Pak-US relationship, the drone attacks which have led to such resentment of the US among Pakistanis.The meetings may pave the way for an improvement in ties, which have plummeted for the last year and a half, but solid steps would do more. The USA will also be expecting that having greased the wheels for an MoU on the Nato supply lines, with $1.1 billion deposited under the Coalition Support Fund in the State Bank of Pakistan, it can now hope for the Pakistan Army to tackle the Haqqani Network. While Pakistan clamours for drone attacks to be stopped, the USA will assume that the release of CSF money, or aid for hydel projects, will be enough to remove doubts about drones from most minds; which for the average Pakistani is of course untrue. General Kayani’s message to General Allen that the Pak-Us relationship should be based on mutual trust, respect and transparency is apt and one both sides should emulate in spirit and action.The USA should realise that drones only create among their survivors fodder for militants to use against the USA itself. Instead of making the USA more secure, as its proponents argue, they make it less secure. The relationship of Pakistan with the USA must be kept on an even keel, with Pakistan not having the desire of retreating into any kind of isolationist shell, but it must be conducted as a relationship between two equals, without anyone having the carte blanche to kill the other’s citizens. Pakistan wants to conduct relations, in the phrase of Abraham Lincoln, ‘with goodwill towards all, and malice towards none.’ but for that to happen, Pakistan must first be assured of its sovereignty remaining unchallenged over its own territories.