Pakistan has become a strategic U.S. ally in the war against al Qaeda. For now, Washington's support of General Pervez Musharraf's military regime is untempered by any insistence on the restoration of democracy. But military rule is likely to increase hostility between Pakistan and India and undercut efforts to root out Islamic extremists, who have been the armed forces' political allies in the past.

Despite intervals of strained relations, the United States and Pakistan were allies for most of the Cold War. Like past periods of engagement, the present spell of close relations is likely to sour into disillusion unless the United States strongly encourages Pakistan to return to democracy. A democratic regime, however flawed, is more likely to provide long-term stability to Pakistan. Specifically, democratic rule would help contain Islamic militancy and would probably lead to improved India-Pakistan relations.

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About the Author
Husain Haqqani, a leading journalist, diplomat, and former advisor to Pakistan prime ministers, is a visiting scholar in Carnegie’s Russian and Eurasian Program.