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.

Nine strategies for more effective U.S. counterterrorism policies towards Pakistan:

  1. Speak clearly and forcefully to Musharraf in private about U.S. frustrations with Pakistan’s counterterrorism performance to outline the prospective consequences inaction will have on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

  2. Continue to encourage Pakistan’s border control efforts, but prioritize the targeting of Taliban leadership operating in Pakistan as part of the current counterterrorism concept of operations.

  3. Restructure the intelligence relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan to allow both the CIA and coalition forces in Afghanistan to acquire greater insight into existing terrorist networks inside Pakistan.

  4. Continue to assist Pakistan with technology and training to prosecute small-unit counterterrorism operations more effectively.

  5. Reform accounting practices to ensure effective oversight and auditing of coalition funds disbursed to Pakistan for counterterrorism operations.

  6. The reestablishment of stable democratic order is essential to stop Pakistan’s spiraling descent into extremism and disorder. The United States must integrate the ongoing political transition in Pakistan, including a return to democracy and rule of law, into the larger war on terrorism.

  7. Commit to long-term assistance for the Karzai government in Afghanistan to address the vacuum of governance, particularly with regards to security, economic development, and narcotics production.

  8. Commit more manpower and material contributions to help NATO live up to its security obligations in Afghanistan.

  9. Accelerate the raising of the Afghan National Army (ANA) as a hedge against the possible failure of NATO to restructure the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to effectively fight and win the war in Afghanistan.

“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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