It is perfectly possible to be anti-TTP and anti-drone simultaneously, without making any moral equivalence between the two. The TTP is a murderous cult that deserves no sympathy. Drones operated by a foreign country are illegal, kill innocent people and lend legitimacy to groups like the TTP. So Pakistanis are perfectly within their rights to be both anti-TTP and anti-drone. And this position does not mean we must treat the two as equals.

Understanding the response to Hakeemullah Mehsud’s assassination is a little more complicated, however, than the anti-TTP and anti-drone debate. Lots of contextual factors inform the varying responses. Broadly, though, there are three kinds of Pakistani responses to the Mehsud termination.

The first is relief that a terrorist kingpin is dead. Who feels this relief? Pakistanis who believe a republic’s first responsibility is to the public – in Pakistan’s case, the public is 200 million strong. The liberty, life and freedom of these 200 million is the life and death of the republic. These Pakistanis are not confounded by secondary or tertiary ideas about what clothes the republic should wear – just that the republic is sacrosanct.

The second response is sorrow. Sorrow that a ‘Muslim’ has been assassinated by an American weapon. This response is best exemplified by the Jamaat-e-Islami’s boss Munawar Hasan. The fact is that this response is no longer restricted to a fringe. A dangerous number of Pakistanis consider TTP terrorists to be fighting for something meaningful. A still more dangerous number of them are immune to the body count that has been racked up by the TTP.

This is scary, no doubt. But let’s remember, every society has a radical right-wing fringe. As long as the radical right-wing fringe is restricted by rule of law, societies can easily continue to function as republics – see all of Europe, America and most of the rest of the world for reference. So, yes, this group is scary, but it is not scarier than the last group.

This last group is the scary one. It is defined by a response that can most generously be described as frustration. Best exemplified by Chaudhry Nisar and Imran Khan, this response is most probably the one with the widest appeal in Pakistan.

Dialogists feel that Mehsud’s assassination is an ambush of the ‘peace’ process between the government and the TTP. A peace process in which the government is being represented by ‘ulema’ – yet again abdicating its space and responsibility in favour of ‘non-state actors’. So in effect, exactly the same formula that got us here to begin with.

Of course, the thing to remember is that this response is not scary because it seeks dialogue. Eventually, all conflicts are resolved by dialogue – that really isn’t the problem here. The problem is much deeper, and it is more deeply embedded in the very DNA of the Pakistani elite.

This response is really the spurned lover response. It is the classical and traditional Pakistani sentiment when it comes to America. Forever, a bridesmaid, never the bride – for some reason, too many Pakistanis are firm in their belief that Uncle Sam and his thousands of NSA snoops, CIA assassins and JSOC fitna-machines owe Pakistan their undying allegiance.

But the truth is that the US does only what is best for the US in its own determination. Pakistan can and should protest when it feels let down by the US, but if a certain sentiment is the dominant mantra in the relationship, we should step back and take stock. Let us go back all the way to independence in 1947 and track the most important times in our nation’s history.

Pakistan felt betrayed in 1965 (war with India), it felt betrayed in 1971 (terrorist insurgency in East Pakistan and Indian invasion), it felt betrayed in 1988 (at the end of the Afghan-Soviet war), it felt betrayed throughout the 1990s (as US disengaged from Afghanistan), it felt betrayed in 1998 (after the nuclear weapons tests), it felt betrayed in 2001 (after post-9/11 ultimatums), and it has felt betrayed throughout the last decade as US and Pakistani interests in Afghan continued to collide constantly and consistently.

Yet throughout these decades, Pakistan has been on a steady diet of US military support, US agricultural support, US technical support and US financial support. MM Alam took down enemy aircraft, one after the other, using F-86 Sabres provided to Pakistan in 1957 under a military aid program. Decades later, Pakistan’s pure skies are under the canopy of protection afforded by F-16s, also provided under a programme of military aid.

But everything in our history is rewired and reconfigured to make us feel better about ourselves – so let’s forget history. Instead, let’s just go back to the news cycle from the last 30 days.

The most significant news someone should have shared with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, before his press briefing? That part of PM Sharif’s talking points on his October visit to the US was to thank the American government for the release of Coalition Support Funds, the release of US assistance (jointly worth roughly $1.2 billion) and America’s support of Pakistan’s application for another major IMF programme (worth roughly $6.8 billion).

Did America betray Pakistan by killing Hakeemullah Mehsud? Probably. But shouldn’t we be used to it by now? Why aren’t we better prepared? What is the plan to get us out of this dependency on America? How can Pakistan be a truly sovereign state? Drone strikes are illegal, no doubt. But they are really a symptom of a more serious problem.

Pakistan does not and cannot pay for itself, and its security. Our protestations to America will remain pathetic and pitiful as long as we continue to depend on US generosity while registering these protests. To be a strong, sovereign state, Pakistan has to pay its own way. This can’t be so hard to understand, can it?