Towards a Sound Pakistan Policy

This Hindustan Times story about how Pakistan’s governing coalition is already on the brink of collapse (due to the PPP’s refusal to reinstate the Supreme Court justices sacked by Pervez Musharraf) reminded me to link to Arif Rafiq’s very smart piece on how America should reconfigure its strategic partnership with Pakistan:

Historically, ties between the United States and Pakistan have been strongest with a Republican in the White House and an army general in power in Islamabad. In this scenario, Congress generally plays an antagonistic, if not wholly hostile role. The goodwill usually ends when Democrats in Washington and democrats in Islamabad govern. This has been the story of the on-again, off-again U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Rafiq proposes four broad approaches for building lasting ties, not just with Pakistani institutions, as Congresisonal Democrats recently advocated for, but also with the Pakistani people. In particular, he stresses the need to increase aid to the newly democratic Pakistan, as opposed to our historic tendency to reduce it. All four are based on sound, common sense principles, and while they might be of the “easier said than done” variety in terms of achieving the desired results (as the Hindustan Times piece demonstrates), it’s not as if our current Pakistan policy is paying enormous dividends.

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