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What ‘Strategic Relationship’ With Pakistan?

Posted by on February 17th, 2011

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By Steve Hynd

Michael Cohen has a good post today looking at what the Raymond Davis affair tells us about America's relationship with supposed key ally Pakistan in the "War on Terror", and gives us a precis of the true state of play.

 shall we catalog for a moment all the ways in which Pakistan is not just a lousy ally, but is actually undermining US interests.

1) Is home to Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda lieutenants (and has been for 9 years) and has made little effort to deal with the issue.

2) Is home to terrorist training camps like one where the Times Square bomber was trained – and also has made little effort to deal with that issue.

3) Is actively supporting an insurgent group in Afghanistan that is killing US soldiers on a regular basis.

4) Provides safe haven to that same insurgency and even after repeated US demands/requests/inducements has offered no indication they are willing end its support for these groups.

5) Has created a diplomatic incident with the United States over the arrest of a protected US diplomat.

Does this sound like the behavior of a country that is interested in a strategic partnership with the United States?

Now granted I understand that it can be a long and drawn-out process of improving relations, but after 9 years shouldn't it be obvious that the United States has made virtually no progress in turning Pakistan into a true strategic ally of the United States….no matter how many sharp sticks they put in the eye of the United States there will be little to no consequences because we need Pakistan a lot more than they need us. How many more pieces of evidence do we need before it becomes abundantly clear that Pakistan is not interested in doing anything to help the US that would even slighly undermine Pakistan's own interests? 

It's a drum I've beaten more than once myself. But I'd like to develop the idea further than Mike does. He tweets that the most obvious effect would be to stop expecting what we do in Afghanistan to have any effect whatsoever on Pakistan's behaviour. That's certainly true – leading anyone with even half a brain to conclude that a far smaller Afghan presence, something like Austin Long's work on a CT strategy, would be a better bet – if not outright and complete withdrawal.

But if Pakistan is not now and never will be a true ally of the US, as seems obvious, then that has further policy ramifications than just what we do next in Afghanistan. Should we be looking at a policy of containment for Pakistan, accepting it as a de facto enemy, rather than smoozing Pakistani leaders with aid that gets redirected to private coffers and military shiny-toys that are immediately aimed at India? Should we be cancelling Kerry-Lugar and F-16s paid for by loans funded by US taxpayers and instead imposing sanctions, telling Pakistan's decent people that they're on their own until they do something about their entrenched military and feudal elites? Should we accept that Pakistan is already in China's orbit vis-a-vis the new Cold War that hawks on both sides think is already being waged? Should the US be unequivocally supporting India as a flourishing democratic voice in the region?

These are all questions that follow unavoidably from the realization that "the United States has made virtually no progress in turning Pakistan into a true strategic ally of the United States", yet few in the US foreign policy set seem prepared to ask, let alone answer them.

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to “What ‘Strategic Relationship’ With Pakistan?”

  1. Visitor says:

    Un$%&ing believable. How dare you assert the hit and run and murder of three Pakistani citizens a “diplomatic incident”? To say the least the fawning of India as a “democratic voice” when it's elite is directly responsible for extreme nepotism, the suicide epidemic of impoverished farmers and a civil war within it's own borders.

    I realize the post was written by two different people but I can't help but notice their paradigm the same. As this country falls into a historical decline it's people have to make a decision, will it act like a Republic? Or remain a vicious Empire?

    I feel the authors should consider the question themselves.

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