Beyond the Islamisation of Pakistan, which many think is a real threat””not only for Pakistan but for the region as a whole””some in Washington worry about Pakistan getting increasingly close to China.
Dorsey explains, “To achieve all of that, the Obama administration would have to strengthen its links with Pakistan’s political leadership instead of endorsing the dominance of the armed forces by favouring contacts with the military and leverage its 2008 nuclear assistance agreement to pressure India to moderate its policy toward the disputed region of Kashmir, which is claimed by both Pakistan and India.”
There is, however, no end to the worry among U.S. policymakers and analysts about how Pakistan will evolve in the coming years, particularly during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and in the post withdrawal days. Beyond the Islamisation of Pakistan, which many think is a real threat—not only for Pakistan but for the region as a whole—some in Washington worry about Pakistan getting increasingly close to China.
Washington noted in April, before Osama bin Laden was killed, that the Pakistani government was advising President Hamid Karzai’s regime in Afghanistan to refuse the United States a permanent military presence in that country and to gravitate more toward Pakistan and China. According to the 27 April Wall Street Journal, Prime Minister Gilani told Karzai that “the Americans had failed them both” and that Karzai should “forget about allowing a long-term U.S. military presence in his country.” The journal pointed out that “Pakistan’s bid to cut the U.S. out of Afghanistan’s future is the clearest sign to date that, as the nearly 10-year war’s endgame begins, tensions between Washington and Islamabad threaten to scuttle America’s prospects of ending the conflict on its own terms.”
How can Washington possibly deal with these problems vis-à-vis Pakistan? In a 6 June interview with Business Insider Politix, Pakistan expert Daniel Markey, a senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, described what an effective U.S. strategy for dealing with Pakistan would involve:
“Let me begin by saying it’s not entirely clear what the strategy is in this post-bin Laden period. It’s clear that a number of steps have been taken; there has been an active effort at engagement at the senior-most levels. But precisely what that engagement is intended to accomplish is not clear. I believe that the Obama administration seeks to repair what was a relationship in crisis and to find a more stable footing for U.S.-Pakistan relations across the board. What I don’t know is what would have to be the foundations of that — whether Pakistan will have to make significant changes in order to make that possible, or whether the U.S. has accepted that cooperation is going to be frustrating and perhaps inadequate, but that frustration and inadequacy is perhaps better than no cooperation at all. I’m not clear what the overarching strategic ambition is for the relationship, but it is clear that there is the desire to at least avoid further deterioration and a greater crisis that would probably lead nowhere good, from either side’s perspective.”
Markey also advocates that the killing of bin Laden and the overall crisis in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship be seen as an opportunity to press the Pakistanis to take very clear and concerted actions against not just militant groups but also individuals and institutions within the Pakistani state—including within its intelligence apparatus—that are working against U.S. interests. Says Markey, “Through a concerted effort — which would include lobbying influential Pakistanis; threatening to cut off U.S. assistance, especially military assistance; working with other Pakistani allies, particularly China and Saudi Arabia; and pushing our military effort in Afghanistan — we could, I believe, create leverage in our relationship with Pakistan, especially at a time when their civilian leadership is weak.”