Why is the U.S. still holding onto Pakistan? The Washington Post reported that during Sec. John Kerry’s visit to Islamabad, the two sides agreed to reinstitute “broad partnership talks”, after Pakistan suspend them in protest to American drone operations. Clearly, drone strikes are a complicated issue, and I would probably lean towards the anti-drone camp, if pushed on the issue; luckily, no one has asked me my opinion on the matter. I do, however, have much stronger feelings on the future of U.S.-Pakistani relations: drop ‘em while you can.
I used to argue that Pakistan was a necessary partner for the United States, as a state with the most ties to Afghanistan and directly related to Afghan stability. True we are not exactly compatible, but it was a friendship of necessity. I no longer feel this way. Indeed, dropping any ideas of a U.S.-Pakistani partnership, and reducing relations to a normal status would allow that U.S. far more benefits than anything a continued alliance with Pakistan could possibly provide.
1. Pakistan does more harm than good in Afghanistan. Pakistan remains unwilling to control terrorist activities in its own territory. Indeed, it now looks like Pakistan actively seeks instability in Afghanistan as a way of ensuring that it remains in control of the region.
2. India is worth more. As US-Indian relations are finally getting some attention from both sides and now is the time to develop that crucial relationship. Pakistan is going to be a mess for the foreseeable future, but India continues to develop into a regional and global player.
3. Pakistan’s stability might cause more harm than good in the long run. Pakistan is an awkward state at best, a failed state at worst. Regardless of the terminology, Pakistan needs a makeover from its Punjabi-centric government and state identity based almost entirely on Muslim opposition to India. The United State’s continued aid to Islamabad supports a state often on the cusp of collapse. There was an article in Foreign Policy sometime back, that argued that the biggest impediment to Central Asia’s develop is stability in states that continue to barely function. If this is true for Central Asia, it true to the power of 10 for Pakistan.
4. Pakistan is no longer a real ally, in any sense of the word. In what universe can we really think of Pakistan as a U.S. ally? I see no evidence of Pakistani contributions to U.S. interests and even fail to see how the U.S. helps Pakistan achieve its own limited objectives.
5. There are stronger Muslim states to ally with. Pakistan might have been a good starting point for the U.S. to try and insure a good public image in Muslim countries, but it is no longer useful in that regard. Turkey and Indonesia are viable alternatives to supporting Pakistan.
In short, courting Pakistan made sense during the Cold War, but now that India is more or less open to working with the U.S. in the region I fail to see any point in pretending we are friends.
Analysis, Thoughts, Ideas
This blog will be an online publishing site for smaller analytical projects, news stories that I find relevant to small state foreign policy and indigenous autonomy, as well as a testing ground for new ideas and new projects that I may pursue.