IMGXYZ7422IMGZYXAny approach that relies solely on money to elicit counterterrorism assistance from Pakistan is bound to fail because it fails to account for that country’s domestic reality and its geopolitical perceptions. The Pakistan army views the Taliban and the Haqqani Network as the best, and perhaps only, tools for shaping a better outcome in Afghanistan, where it fears Indian influence will translate into encirclement. Notably, neither the Taliban nor the Haqqani Network is involved in the insurgency currently raging inside Pakistan, and the army is leery of action that could alter this reality.

In short, the army sees other countries reaping the benefits were it to act against these militants, while Pakistan would be left to deal with the costs (both domestic and geopolitical). No amount of money is likely to change that calculus in the near term and neither side should pretend otherwise.

That is not a reason to discontinue funding, but it is a reason to be more discriminating about where the money goes. In particular, assistance to civilian institutions remains a worthwhile investment. One of the narratives in Pakistan since Sept. 11 has been that the United States will abandon it after American objectives vis-à-vis Al Qaeda are achieved. Continuing to engage with Pakistan and to provide aid for civilian institutions – for example, to increase governance capacity, promote economic development and build up civilian law enforcement capabilities – is a powerful way to signal that America is not a fairweather friend.

It is also necessary as a means of helping to encourage Pakistani stability in the short term and growth in the longer term. Both are necessary for greater stability in South Asia, a region in which the United States will continue to have equities long after Al Qaeda has been defeated.