The United States must shift its counterterrorism policy towards Pakistan away from a reciprocal approach—requiring Islamabad to perform desirable actions to receive support—towards one encouraging Pakistan to enact effective counterterrorism policies, not for an immediate payoff, but to strengthen institutionalized trust with the U.S. over time, according to a new report from the Carnegie Endowment.
In Pakistan and the War on Terror: Conflicted Goals, Compromised Performance, Carnegie Senior Associate Ashley J. Tellis points to growing dissatisfaction in the United States with the Musharraf regime’s commitment to counterterrorism operations, given the influx of U.S. aid. But while Pakistan’s performance in the “war on terror” has fallen short of expectations, Islamabad’s inability to defeat terrorist groups cannot simply be explained by neglect or lack of motivation. U.S. policy makers must take into account the specific and complex counterterrorism challenges facing Pakistan and move away from their current unsustainable policies.
“The Bush administration ought to persist with its current emphasis on the noncoercive engagement of Pakistan at least so long as there is a reasonable hope that the transformation of Pakistan into a moderate Muslim state is not a lost cause, that the Musharraf regime can be persuaded to expand its counterterrorism operations to those groups that have thus far remained beyond reach, and that the United States will have sufficient opportunity to switch to an alternative strategy before the present attempt at engagement is judged to have failed irremediably.”
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