Regional

US overdrive on Pak can be a classic mistake

Feb 14, 2017
By Cyril Almeida
 
The Americans are at it again. Troop surge in Afghanistan, policy review on Pakistan, alternating between threatening and bribing us to “do more”. Like, it’s 2009 again. The problem is that it’s not. It’s 2017 and the Americans may be about to screw it up for us — again, perhaps in a new way.
 
The terms of the debate being framed in the US for Donald Trump on Pakistan are nascent but familiar: through the Afghan looking glass and a blame-cum-incentives framework. To fix Afghanistan, Pakistan must be fixed — and to fix Pakistan, the usual tools are to be deployed. But it hasn’t worked and won’t. Possibly because the US doesn’t have the influence or leverage it needs, but more likely because the debate we see in public is supplemented by one out of view:
 
The public stuff may be all Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Afghanistan, but there’s counterterrorism cooperation, nuclear safety and security, and a link to China and India that shape what can be done on Pakistan. Or at least, it makes sure that the public talk of really turning the screws on Pakistan does not translate into actual action.
 
To really convince itself that fixing Pakistan is not the automatic and inevitable route to fixing Afghanistan, the US would have to really turn the screws on Pakistan. But it can’t — won’t — really turn the screws on Pakistan because of the other, security-based aspects to the relationship and so the US will never reach the stage where it can disabuse itself of the belief that fixing Pakistan is the route to fixing Afghanistan. A circularity in a region full of circles and conundrums.
 
Read more at:
http://www.deccanchronicle.com/opinion/columnists/130217/us-overdrive-on-pak-can-be-a-classic-mistake.html
 
The Deccan Chronicle, February 14, 2017

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