Continuing with my weekly series of articles on Pakistan, here is a fascinating piece in Foreign Affairs arguing that rather than upping American assistance to Pakistan, Washington should disengage in an effort to change Islamabad’s behavior. The argument is predicated on the notion that Pakistan – driven by its military and the ISI (Pakistan’s secret services) – are supporting terrorist and extremist groups in an effort to continue the supply of US aid.
That argument certainly holds water as recent reports surrounding the deaths of Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar have pointed to a degree of collusion at the highest levels of the Pakistani state/army. That said, I’m not convinced that Pakistan’s civilian leadership is necessarily the problem – a point somewhat made in this article. If anything, the army and secret services have the most to lose if Washington cuts assistance, or better yet, adapts it to more civil-society oriented goals.
I plan to research this issue further in order to make a real judgement, however my cursory examination leads me to believe the solution lies somewhere between a full drawback of US military support and continuing the current levels. The most fragile balance that the US wants to maintain is that between the civilian government and the army. By taking too aggressive a stance, the US risks unsettling the recent gains made by the civilian government (although many could argue that Pakistan’s hardline approach toward domestic terrorism stems from the army wresting control from the government.
Overall, this article is a fascination, thought provoking piece on the current state of affairs in Pakistan and does a good job of outlining how the United States and its foreign policy have impacted the country and the region.