Advancing a Free Society

We need to enlist Pakistan, not punish it

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Obama administration is withholding $800 million in military aid to Pakistan in understandable frustration with the Pakistani military's partial-at-best cooperation with the effort against militant radicals. But this approach is likely to result in even less cooperation.

Relations between the two nations have been spiraling downward for a while, in crisis after crisis: Pakistanis held an American who had shot and killed two people on murder charges, although the U.S. insisted he had diplomatic immunity and should be released. We didn't inform the Pakistanis in advance of the Osama bin Laden raid; they expelled U.S. intelligence and military trainers; we accused the Pakistani military of killing an investigative journalist; we reduced assistance by a third to penalize a lack of cooperation. But our problem is that deteriorating relations hurt American interests more than Pakistan's.

To Pakistan's military leaders, the defining event in relations with the U.S. came in 1998, when the U.S. cut off aid after Pakistan's nuclear test.

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(photo credit: Kashif Mardani)