“¦the Obama administration has taken quiet steps to reassure Islamabad that the United States doesnt want to grab Pakistans nuclear weapons”¦
Another analyst, deputy editor of the Washington Post David Ignatius, likens the periodic on-and-off relations between the U.S. and Pakistan to a tempestuous couple falling “in and out of love, rather than maintaining a steady and dependable bond.” In a 4 March 2010 op-ed, “To Pakistan, Almost with Love,” Ignatius writes, “In the upbeat White House version, the first big success for the Obama administration’s new Afghanistan policy has come not in the battle of Marja in Helmand province but in Islamabad. Officials cite Pakistan’s cooperation with the CIA in capturing and interrogating top leaders of the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan’s new dialogue with India.”
He continues, “Pakistani officials agree that there has been a positive change in mood. They say the Obama administration has taken quiet steps to reassure Islamabad that the United States doesn’t want to grab Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and that it isn’t trying to smuggle in covert operators disguised as U.S. contractors. ‘It’s about getting back to trusting each other,’ says one Pakistani official.
“¦”promoting instability among Pakistans restive Pashtun, Baluch and Sindhi populations” and, as an adjunct, justifies Islamabads developing of terrorist jihadis in order to keep Pakistans “enemy,” India, from undoing Pakistans stability.
“But military and intelligence officials on both sides appear wary of over-promising what this new partnership can deliver. There’s greater confidence, they say, because officials know each other better. One U.S. official counts 25 high-level American visits to Pakistan since President Obama took office. One key administration official characterizes the relationship this way: ‘We have narrowed the gap in terms of strategic outlooks, and that has allowed a greater cooperation on the tactical level.’ But he cautions that it would overstate this rapprochement to call it a ‘strategic recalibration,’ as some White House officials have.”
Coll is one of many who have put a great deal of emphasis on strengthening U.S. relations with Pakistan. In the latter half of 2008, the Center for American Progress (CAP), widely acknowledged as a think-tank closely tied to President Barack Obama, urged the president-elect in a 71-page report “Partnership for Progress” to pursue its goals in Pakistan as part of a broader multilateral effort and a regional strategy designed to address Islamabad’s security concerns with Afghanistan and India. “The United States needs to make a shift from a reactive, transactional, short-term approach that is narrowly focused on bilateral efforts,” the report argued. “Instead, a more proactive, long-term strategy should seek to advance stability and prosperity inside Pakistan through a multilateral, regional approach.” The CAP report predicted that Pakistan “will pose one of the greatest foreign policy challenges for the incoming Obama administration.”
The CAP report carries weight since the organisation’s president and CEO is John Podesta, former President Bill Clinton’s last White House chief of staff, who had headed Obama’s presidential transition team since long before the election. Moreover, at least two of the report’s four coauthors—CAP’s Brian Katulis, a Middle East and South Asia specialist, and Lawrence Korb, a senior Pentagon official under President Ronald Reagan—are close to the administration, and Korb supported President Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan.