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Opinion

US must turn up the heat on Pakistan. Here's how to make that work.

Pakistan’s duplicity further weakens the decaying US-Pakistan relationship. It also lessens chances for a successful outcome in Afghanistan and erodes the internal security of both the US and Pakistan. Fortunately, the US does have a few options.

By James P. Farwell / October 27, 2011



New Orleans

A few weeks ago, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen rightly blasted Pakistan for exporting violence to Afghanistan. And similar accusations keep surfacing – specifically that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has supported Haqqani network militants attacking US and coalition forces along the border.

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Pakistan’s behavior further weakens the decaying US-Pakistan relationship. It also lessens chances for a successful outcome in Afghanistan and erodes the internal security of both the United States and Pakistan. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent trip to Islamabad aimed to smooth relations, but also emphasize Washington’s demand that Pakistan better combat terrorists and insurgent groups. Fortunately, in the face of Pakistan’s misguided strategy, the US does have a few options.

To be fair, Washington has been trying to push Pakistan. In Kabul earlier this month, Secretary Clinton called on Pakistan to “take the lead” in fighting insurgent groups operating in Pakistan and help rehabilitate fighters in Afghanistan as well. But enlisting Pakistani cooperation will be quite a challenge. Some suspect that the ISI even supported the recent assault on the US embassy in Kabul, as payback for the attack on Osama bin Laden. This is not so far-fetched. While Americans took satisfaction in a mission accomplished, many Pakistanis viewed the attack as an abuse of sovereignty.

In a recent Pew Global Attitudes Survey, a majority of Pakistanis thought that killing bin Laden was a bad thing. It’s fair to speculate that, consequently, many Pakistanis took satisfaction in seeing the US embassy attacked.

Then there is the Pakistanis’ dislike of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has already drawn himself closer to Pakistan’s archrival, India. Just that perception alone is damning to the Karzai government, because fear of India is a big hot button. Pakistan and India have gone to war three times in just 60 years. Fear of India also helps bind Pakistan to insurgent groups like the Haqqani network.

So what should the US do?

Pressure Army to rein in ISI

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