Monday, February 13, 2017

Problematic Pakistan

With friends like Pakistan...

U.S. assistance levels to Pakistan reached their height in 2011, when the U.S. provided $3.6 billion in military and economic aid, and have decreased every year since.

One reason for the decline in aid levels is due to the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan and the decreased reliance on Pakistan for Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs).

Another reason is growing frustration, particularly among members of the U.S. Congress, with continued Pakistani support to the Taliban and Haqqani network that fight Afghan and coalition forces.

Pakistani safe havens for the Afghan Taliban remain the single most difficult challenge to the NATO effort to stabilize Afghanistan. Efforts to encourage the Pakistani army to curtail their assistance to the Haqqani network and the Taliban have failed, despite over $25 billion in U.S. assistance by two presidents over 15 years. The longest war in American history is a proxy war with Pakistan, and it has the fastest-growing nuclear weapons arsenal in the world.

A new approach is therefore critical. The report suggests a more vigorous effort to encourage Pakistan to break ties with the Taliban and other terrorist groups based in Pakistan like the Lashkar e Tayyiba group that attacked Mumbai in November 2008. These groups have enjoyed Pakistani backing for decades. The civilian government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has very little role in this patronage network—rather, it’s the so-called “deep state” of the intelligence service and the army high command that’s in charge.

So the report recommends  curtailing assistance to the military as long as it assists groups that kill Americans, either GIs in Afghanistan or Americans in India. It recommends revoking Pakistan’s status as a Major Non-NATO ally in six months if the army does not change.

A review of whether Pakistan should be considered a state sponsor of terrorism—a draconian measure—should not be ruled out if conditions don’t improve.

The report also lays out a roadmap for change for Pakistan to take.

Our quarrel is not with the Pakistani people or their elected leadership, but with the generals who back terrorists.

It’s critical to get this right—for Pakistan, as both a victim and patron of terrorism, its region, the United States, and beyond.