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.
(Page 2 of 3)
First, Washington must demand that Chief of Army Staff Asfaq Pervez Kayani – the key power player in Pakistan – crack down on ISI aid to the Haqqani network, Taliban, and other insurgent groups attacking US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The Army holds great influence over the ISI. As a former director general of the ISI, Mr. Kayani knows the agency very well. And the ISI’s current director general, Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, is a trusted ally. It’s fair to say that Kayani is strong enough to rein in ISI operatives.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Then what leverage might the US apply?
America doesn’t need another front in the war in Afghanistan, so sending in troops to Pakistan is unrealistic and unwanted – both by Pakistan’s government and Americans back home. Doing so would probably only cause the kind of political instability that would benefit the militant Islamists. Formally labeling the country a state-sponsor of terrorism could have the same effect.
Another option, cutting off aid, would be unlikely to change the military’s policies. Though Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari sides with the US in his hostility to the Taliban, the elected government lacks the power to impose its will on the military.
Urge India-Pakistan talks over Afghanistan
The challenge for US-Pakistani relations is Pakistan’s relationship with India and Islamabad's concerns about Mr. Karzai moving to solidify his relations with India. Yet India and Pakistan have recently made surprising progress in talks centered on strengthening economic ties.
The US could play off that positive momentum and encourage New Delhi and Islamabad to open a dialogue on Afghanistan as well. It won’t be easy, but dispelling Islamabad’s fears about India’s intentions in Afghanistan could go a long way toward correcting the Pakistani military’s strategic calculus. (Many assess that Pakistan maintains some alliance with insurgents as insurance against Indian influence in Afghanistan.)
If the ISI ignored that signal for better cooperation with India, it should understand that such a refusal might force the US to take its own steps and consider a stronger strategic alliance with India aimed at containing Pakistan militarily. That has to be Pakistan’s nightmare. The threat, which Washington must be willing to act on, may well motivate the military to rethink whether supporting the Taliban and Haqqani network serves their interests.
Pakistan needs a communication campaign at home
The US must also persuade the Pakistani government to mount a strong communication campaign at home to demonize the Taliban, Islamist terrorists, and other insurgent groups, especially the Haqqani network. Pakistan has mostly lacked the will to do that. Partly that’s because public opinion is hostile to the US, which many blame more than terrorists and insurgent groups for bombings at home. Many Pakistanis feel that their country is fighting America’s war and paying the price.