Finally, tough love for US ally Pakistan
With nuclear missiles and a hotbed of terrorists, Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Washington's aggressive new approach toward insurgent groups in Pakistan, particularly the Haqqani network, is crucial.
(Page 2 of 2)
Even though Pakistan bridles at this, the US is already quietly using drones to eliminate hostile individuals who find sanctuary along the Pakistani side of the Afghan-Pakistani border. It is difficult to see any legal or moral inhibition against using more to eliminate Haqqani leaders who have hitherto been protected by Pakistan’s double-dealing.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Drones: America's unmanned Predators
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
International law permits preventive action against an actual or potential enemy in a foreign country. After 9/11, President George W. Bush declared that the US would pursue terrorists around the globe, and even in countries that harbored them. President Obama unleashed military force to pluck Osama bin Laden from Pakistan without any permission from Pakistani authorities.
The US could also formally declare the Haqqani network a terrorist organization. This would enable the US, and like-minded allies, to hobble movement of funds, weapons, and any legal travel for that terrorist organization.
On the diplomatic front, the Obama administration should work for a stronger relationship between Pakistan and India. The two have fought wars with each other and have serious disagreements over the future of Kashmir, among other issues. But it is Pakistan’s paranoid fear of India that may in part cause Pakistan to dabble and seek influence with questionable organizations like the Haqqani network, which might be useful in any regional struggle with India (particularly regarding influence in Afghanistan).
The Obama administration could also begin a dialogue with China about Pakistan. China has wooed Pakistan in the past, and some Pakistanis reason that an alliance with China might be easier than their difficult partnership with the Americans.
But even though China has been involved in a number of new construction and trade agreements with Pakistan, it has recently curbed some, citing concerns about security. Some Chinese workers have even been killed. This could be the time for the US to convince China that both nations have an interest in a stable Pakistan.
The US should not dump Pakistan altogether, but if Pakistan will not crack down on terrorists like the Haqqani group, America has little choice but to take action against such networks itself.
John Hughes, a former editor of the Monitor, writes a biweekly column.