Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category

The U.S. and Pakistan: “Divorce”?

From Flickr,

Pakistan’s colorful former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, created a flutter of excitement in a recent presentation by calling for a “divorce” between the two countries – and urging them to find “friendship outside the marital bond.” His analysis of this dysfunctional relationship tracks well with our book, How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States: Riding the Roller Coaster. Our preferred solution would be different, however: we focus more on the content of the new friendship. As a new U.S. ambassador prepares to arrive in Islamabad, the United States needs to build up aspects of its relationship that do not revolve around Afghanistan, while developing an Afghanistan strategy that is realistic about Islamabad’s goals. These differ sharply from Washington’s.

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Pakistan’s New Player

President Obama and PM Gilani,

The Pakistan parliament has now completed its action on a resolution defining the terms of reference for future Pakistan-U.S. relations, adopting it without formal dissent. Action now passes to the Pakistani cabinet, which must formally initiate discussions with the United States. All eyes will be on how the U.S. and Pakistani governments negotiate the actual working of this troubled relationship. The parliament’s central role in this process also tells us about some things that have changed – and some that have not – in the way Pakistan’s government institutions work, both internally and with the United States. Both countries should take this opportunity to revise their well-practiced negotiating tactics, which have become a recipe for failure.

Read our article, published on April 23, 2012.

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Manmohan Singh and Asif Zardari: A Hopeful Encounter

Photo by radicaleye,

April 10, 2012: Four months ago, Pakistani president Asif Zardari’s trip to Dubai for medical treatment sparked intense rumors of a military coup. Last weekend, Zardari lunched in Delhi with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and was photographed wearing a flamboyant turban at a renowned Sufi shrine at Ajmer in Rajasthan. What happened and what does it mean?

No one, least of all two longtime observers of the South Asia scene like us, expected to see India-Pakistan relations transformed by this Easter Sunday luncheon in New Delhi, the first meeting in a bilateral setting between the top leaders of India and Pakistan in seven years. But the brief summit session usefully highlighted the accelerating strengthening of ties over the past year or so. It also raised hopes that further progress can be achieved if the two sides persist in the sensible, unspectacular approach they have recently followed. Read more

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Resetting the U.S.-Pakistan Relationship

Parliament, Islamabad. Photo courtesy of flickr,

2011 was a catastrophic year for U.S.-Pakistan relations. Starting with CIA contractor Ray Davis’s arrest for shooting two Pakistanis dead case in January, going on through the raid on Abbottabad in early May that killed Osama bin Laden, and culminating in the NATO forces lethal attack on a Pakistani border post in November 2011, a series of shocks shook this important partnership to its core. Both countries expect their future relationship to be more modest, but neither has defined this concept. As they grapple with this change, U.S. policymakers need to recognize that Pakistan, not Afghanistan, is the big issue, and to develop building blocks for a post-2014 relationship that meets the needs of both countries.

Read our article, published in March 19, 2012.

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U.S. and Pakistani Goals Diverge

Photo by IIP State

Pakistan and the United States have pursued an important partnership for many years, but their goals diverge.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s contribution to the U.S. News and World Report Debate Club, published on the U.S. News web site October 27, 2011.

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Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir: A grand bargain?

Khyber Pass, photo from flickr,

Kashmir, photo from flickr,

With U.S. relations in Pakistan at a low point and the two countries’ strategic disagreement over priorities in Afghanistan on full display, it is time to review U.S. strategic options. One that deserves a close look is a grand bargain: give Pakistan what it wants in Afghanistan – but on two conditions: Pakistan assumes responsibility for preventing terrorism out of Afghanistan, and Pakistan agrees to settle Kashmir along the present geographic lines. This is not a panacea, nor would it be easy to execute. But it addresses the principal stumbling block to the current U.S. strategy, and provides an incentive to settle the region’s longest-running dispute.

Read our article published on October 20, 2011.

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How Pakistan looks at the United States

Read Teresita Schaffer’s interview in Dawn, September 9, 2011, on Pakistan’s “three marriages and two divorces” with the United States, the challenge of the two countries’ strategic gap, the impact when one country withholds information from the other, and some of Pakistan’s negotiating successes with the United States.

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Pakistan’s Gloomy Anniversary

Jinnah, photo by Eye 4,

August 17, 2011: In South Asia, as in many other parts of the world, national independence days are a time for editors and other commentators to reflect on their country’s state of affairs, spell out what’s going well and what’s going badly, and offer some — hopefully original –ideas about what can be done to set things right. We’ve made it a practice to check out these commentaries. We’ve found that they can often help us and other outsiders get a better idea of the national mood in these countries, or at least of their elites. With this goal in mind we went through the editorials and other commentaries in Pakistan’s English-language press that “celebrated” the 64th anniversary of the country’s independence on August 14.

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Dealing with Pakistan: Conflicting Views

Photo by Travlr,

July 22, 2011: It has been almost three months since a U.S. SEAL task force killed Osama bin Laden at his Abbottabad hideaway, gravely aggravating the worst crisis in U.S.-Pakistan relations since 9/11.  Since the raid, there has been a continuing flurry of diplomatic activity as officials of the two countries sought to deal with immediate issues and to establish the “operating rules” for fruitful bilateral relations.

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Pakistan: Don’t Get Distracted by the Fai Case

July 20, 2011: Veteran Kashmir-watchers like ourselves were amazed to find that today’s New York Times and Washington Post gave front-page coverage to the arrest of Ghulam Nabi Fai, the longtime director of the Washington-based Kashmir American Council. Fai and another Pakistani-American were charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign principal – the Pakistan government – without registering with the attorney general. They were also charged with concealing the fact that Pakistan was funding and directing the KAC’s lobbying and public relations campaigns in the United States. The funding allegedly included campaign contributions to members of Congress known for their pro-Pakistan positions on the long-standing Kashmir dispute.

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