May 24, 2012

What to Do about Pakistan?

An interesting thought occurred to me yesterday.

What sparked the idea was the news story that Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afrid had been convicted of treason for his assistance to the CIA in finding Osama bin Laden and sentenced to 33 years in prison. This was just the latest indication that Pakistan, ostensibly an ally, is substantially hostile to U.S. interests and coƶperates with the U.S. only insofar as it is necessary to collect billions of dollars in foreign aid and other compensatory payments. Pakistan–U.S. relations are most problematic with respect to our operations in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas, where, it seems, we operate drones with impunity to kill members of the Taliban. That the Tribal Areas provide safe haven—relatively safe haven, anyway—for the Taliban is one reason the war in Afghanistan has dragged on so long.

My thought may be half-baked, as I haven’t considered all possible implications, particularly, but not limited to, the fact that Pakistan is a nation possessing nuclear weapons. Anyway, here is my idea: Why not just declare war on Pakistan and fight a real war in the Tribal Areas?


  1. I am assuming this is a joke? Not very funny.

    I have spent most of my life in India and Pakistan, where my father had 5 diplomatic postings including as high commissioner (ambassador) in both countries.

    Since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, it has been an ally (not just ostensibly) of the US. There was an Indo-Soviet axis, and the Pakistan-US axis was a necessary counterweight. For over 60 years Pakistan backed the US in the UN and other diplomatic forums, in exchange for which Americans gave Pakistan aid.

    Sometimes the relationship was not fully explained on either side, and misunderstandings resulted. How we all laughed when President Johnson effusively greeted a Karachi camel driver: 'You must come see me in Texas'. Very excited at his prospective new life in the States, the camel-driver did just that. It had to be explained to him that promises were not always what they seemed.

    At that point, the form that Islam took in Pakistan was very relaxed, but over the years it has become increasingly strict, with all the problems for international relations with non-Muslims that we know.

    Metternich would have managed it better, but the US foreign policy seems to have moved from close ally to bombing target in a very few years. Have you taken into consideration at all that more people have been killed in terrorist incidents in Pakistan perpetrated by Islamist extremists than were killed in the Twin Towers?

  2. We seem to be neither at peace nor at war with Pakistan. Is this a stable relationship? And no, I wasn’t joking. I was intending to be provocative, however, rather than to be advocating.

  3. I agree that America's relations with Pakistan are in a sorry state, but I suggest that the fault does not lie entirely with Pakistan.

  4. I like Lionel's idea. Seems to me, if you dump billions of dollars of aid into a country, the least it could do is show some gratitude. Not punish a person who helped nail one of the most despicable people on the planet.


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