Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Problem in Pakistan

Pakistan is in the news a lot today. The voices and advice are wide-ranging. From VP Biden saying early on that Afghanistan depends on what happens in India and Pakistan, to cries that 'Pakistan is not doing enough for us.'

I agree that, as one article from the Brookings Institute states Lashkar-e-Taiba is an important threat, and that the prevented attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh would have unleashed many negative repercussions on the already strained South Asian security situation. It would make U.S. calls on Pakistan to 'crack down' even more strident--which I think would be the wrong reaction.

I agree much more with another Brookings Institute article, which I referenced in my last post about how China and the US can work together with Pakistan.

The part I really want people to think on, is not so much how much pressure the US or China should put on Pakistan (I think Pakistan gets plenty of pressure, in the midst of troubled government, corruption, regular suicide bomb attacks of the Pakistani military itself, and its ongoing conflict with both India AND Afghanistan), but what can be done to help Pakistan move forward. In fact, I'd say taking a step back and letting Pakistan run its country might be a start. They're probably freaking out more than we (the US), and have plenty of problems to deal with. Considering that the US can't stop a terrorist attack when the father of the terrorist tries to turn him in and tells us directly about him, I don't think we should be casting the Pakistanis in such an ill light.

The first paragraph of the second Brookings article summarizes the problem.

Sorry I didn't copy/paste--the blog tool gave an error, I'm going to try and copy/paste the quote in a reply comment. It is important to realize that things aren't as simple as 'pressuring' or 'not pressuring.' Especially with our complicated history of funding islamic extremism (to counter Arab nationalism and Communism, respectively), we have to find ways to help without making things worse.

I look forward to your thoughts. Unfortunately, I only outlined a problem and didn't give you solutions.


1 comment:

  1. Pakistan is under the influence of a dangerous cocktail. It at once faces a growing insurgency led by Taliban and al Qaeda militants, a domestic political system characterized by interminable infighting, and an economic meltdown. Inside the U.S. government, preventing against a Pakistani collapse has become the clarion call for inter-agency coordination. The antidote, however, is unclear. Pakistani officials have long considered the United States a fickle and unreliable partner. For the last sixty years U.S. policy toward Pakistan has oscillated wildly between two extremes: entrancement with Islamabad and an unquestioning embrace of its policies, or chastisement of the country for provoking wars or developing nuclear weapons. Today, Pakistani discontent with Washington stands at a record high. According to recent polls, only 16% of Pakistanis have a favorable view of the U.S., while 68% look upon the United States unfavorably.1 From 2000 to 2008, America’s unfavorable ratings in Pakistan consistently exceeded 50%. Pakistanis believe the United States treats them as a disposable ally—a convenient friend when fighting communism or al Qaeda, but one just as easily thrown away when core American interests are no longer at stake.