Despite American demands for greater cooperation, Yousaf Gilani, Pakistan’s prime minister, made clear on Monday that Pakistani officials accepted little responsibility for the failure to find Osama bin Laden, who had been living for years in Abbottabad, just 35 miles from Pakistan’s capital. Tensions rose further on Monday when Pakistani authorities leaked the identity of the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad to the local press.Leon Panetta, the C.I.A. director, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week that Pakistani authorities “were involved or incompetent.” The Obama administration has sought $3 billion in aid for Pakistan for 2012, but some lawmakers are questioning the value of that investment.
Has aid to Pakistan in the past decade — totaling more than $20 billion — helped or hurt American security interests? Should aid be cut off now?
Christine Fair (Get the Proof First)
The U.S.-Pakistan relationship “makes less and less sense,” Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Monday. She and other members of Congress are questioning the utility if not wisdom of continuing to invest in Pakistan’s people and government.The responses of Pakistan’s political and military establishments have not helped. They have chosen to accuse the U.S. of infringing on the country’s sovereignty, for the Navy Seals’ raid on Osama bin Laden’s capacious compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad , rather than focus on his ability to hide in plain sight for six years and mightily infringe on Pakistan’s sovereignty himself. That said, while Pakistan is busy deflecting criticism, all accounts and statements attesting to Pakistan’s official facilitation of Bin Laden’s presence are speculative. The United States had been monitoring the house since August 2010 and had even erected a C.I.A. house to do so. If there was credible evidence of Pakistani facilitation, the U.S. government should say so. If there is no evidence, then speculation is reckless and may push Pakistan into a position where reclaiming a modicum of collaboration will be impossible in the wake of the humiliation of the country and its institutions.
What is required right now is cool-headed investigation into what happened, how it happened and with what government facilitation. To cut off aid to Pakistan based on unsubstantiated speculation would be a strategic bungle.
What is required right now is cool-headed investigation into what happened, how it happened and with what government facilitation. To cut off aid to Pakistan based on unsubstantiated speculation would be a strategic bungle.
Washington has few options but to engage Pakistan. If it declares Pakistan an enemy, what will be the consequences? Washington cannot put together adequate political carrots and meaningful sticks to compel Pakistan to abandon its reliance on militants because Washington lacks the will. In the absence of other obvious alternatives,
Washington needs to step up engagement to secure U.S. interests, be it against proliferation of nuclear technology, terrorism, or both. The only hope for Pakistan’s future is continued investment in its people and civilian institutions albeit with greater clarity of purpose, efficacy and attention to outcomes.
Seth G Jones (Focus on Economic Aid )
perfect storm has hit Washington and Islamabad. The relationship had already frayed thanks to an escalating series of incidents, from a lawsuit against the chief of Pakistan’s spy agency in a U.S. court to America’s drone program in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Then Pakistan’s failure to identify, let alone capture or kill, Osama bin Laden — and the U.S. decision to conduct the raid in Abbottabad without telling Pakistan authorities – only tore further at the relationship.
Add to the mix a fragile U.S. economy, and Washington will find it increasingly difficult to expend U.S. tax dollars in the absence of better results. But if Pakistan helps capture or kill certain individuals – the presumptive new Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, senior operative Ilyas Kashmiri, media chief Abu Yahya al-Libi, and a host of others – America might more readily extend current levels of financial assistance.
It makes little sense to abandon Pakistan and cut off all financial assistance, which would make it even harder for the U.S. to target Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan. But America could reduce part of its security assistance, focusing instead on economic and humanitarian aid. There is a range of other options, including placing U.S. security assistance into an escrow account until cooperation improves.
Washington could also keep a scorecard of progress. A similar scorecard might also be kept for efforts to eliminate Afghan Taliban leaders who reside in Pakistan, specifically Karachi and Baluchistan Province. Today, elements within the Pakistan government, including the country’s spy agency, are providing support to groups like the Taliban and Haqqani network, according to credible news reports.
Targeting insurgent leaders would not require large-scale military operations, but rather clandestine police and intelligence raids. The U.S. and Pakistan employed these tactics after September 11, with the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Abu Zubayda, and other terrorists. But these examples of cooperation tailed off as Pakistan became embroiled in its own internal struggles.
Washington can provide some carrots, like supporting Pakistani efforts to stabilize Baluchistan and defeat insurgents there. But it may need sticks as well. There are inherent risks in this strategy, which could cause further deterioration in U.S.-Pakistani cooperation, which has waxed and waned over the decades. But decreasing security assistance is not likely to terminate the relationship.
Today, the threats to Pakistan and the United States are serious and real, and they require substantive cooperation. The true mettle of policymakers is whether they can effectively deal with today’s threats despite their disagreements and conflict over recent events.
Parag Khanna (Cut Military Aid Now)
The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is a microcosm of international relations more broadly: talking about change has little correlation to actually achieving it.
Before the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the Government Accountability Office released a study criticizing the lack of progress in making aid to Pakistan more effective. Far less has been spent than promised, and far too few inspectors have been assigned to oversee implementation of the projects.
It is nothing new to assert that Pakistan’s government is incompetent when it comes to national policy and complicit at some level in the spread of radicalism within its borders — with some parts of the government quite ignorant as to who is doing what.
This state of affairs has existed for decades, with Pakistan’s society suffering and its institutions crumbling while it issues statements in its own defense. After Bin Laden’s killing, some are calling for America to reduce its presence in the region, and others are arguing for the need to either cut military assistance and/or make both military and civilian assistance far more conditional on actual progress in eradicating Al Qaeda and combating the Taliban. All of the above are good recommendations.
To take advantage of this inflection point in U.S.-Pakistani relations means focusing more on substance than style, more on policy than money.
First, aid money should be pooled with other donors and private-sector finance mechanisms and directed toward specific infrastructure projects like dams, power plants and roads. This way, there would be monitoring among the various investors and corruption could come to light more quickly than through direct support for Pakistan’s official ministries.
Secondly, military assistance should be dramatically reduced. Pakistan’s military has all of the soldiers, guns, ammunition and equipment needed to move about in the tribal areas and to begin to clear them of Taliban forces. They only need — and have already gotten — access to drones and the intelligence they can provide.
Lastly, the regional “Silk Road” strategy which the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke championed must be the guiding vision of America’s approach to the region. Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, India and China need to embedded in a regional economic framework that promotes cross-border commerce, trade, investment and integration. Only then will all parties in the region start to take joint responsibility for their own affairs — and Pakistan can get what it wants: America to leave.
Shuja Nawaz (Consider the Broader War)
When Pakistan’s first military ruler Field Marshal Mohammed Ayub Khan soured on the relationship with the United States, he released his memoirs in 1967 entitled “Friends not Masters” to describe what Pakistan sought in this relationship. Two years later and in the middle of celebrating his “Decade of Development,” he was forced out of office by street power, the victim of his own hubris.
The killing of Osama Bin Laden deep in the heart of Pakistan by a Navy Seal team has exposed the deep mistrust that bedevils the relationship between the United States and Pakistan today. Many in Pakistan will be reviving the Ayub Khan message. The Pakistani military especially was stung that the U.S. action took place without any approval by the local army and air force. It has also been hurt by public criticism that it was unable to protect Pakistan’s borders against a blatant military incursion.
Its first object of blame will be the United States. If the hard-liners win the internal debate in army headquarters in Rawalpindi, another split may be in the works sooner rather than later. The civilian government has ceded major policymaking on security issues to the military: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani decamped to Paris right after the raid. This week, President Asif Ali Zardari takes off for Russia. Even the army chief reportedly complained of the lack of direction from the government on counter-terrorism efforts inside the country. Some in the U.S. Congress, meanwhile, are threatening to cut off aid to Pakistan.
Both countries’ responses would be disastrous. The U.S. would lose primary access via Pakistan for its supplies to fight the war in Afghanistan at a critical stage in that conflict. The Pakistanis would lose the $2 billion to $3 billion of aid, including cash from the Coalition Support Funds that the U.S. provides Pakistan’s military to cover the costs of its operations in the western half of the country.
It is not clear where Pakistan would find the money to finance the war against terrorism and the Pakistani Taliban. Its only option may be further deficit spending that would plunge it deeper into an economic hole, and fuel inflation and public unrest. The aid cut-off would extend to economic assistance as well, designed to build ties with the Pakistani people. If that aid ends, the people of Pakistan, who stand to benefit most from economic development, will feel the United States has left them in the lurch yet again.
The spy-versus-spy games reminiscent of MAD magazine also continue to fuel recriminations in this dysfunctional alliance. The leaking of the name of the C.I.A. station chief in Pakistan, who was involved in planning the Abbottabad raid, raises the ante yet again.
Yet something must be done to restore the damaged relationship, especially prior to the resumption of the ”strategic dialogue” that Secretary Hilary Clinton was preparing to attend in Islamabad in the next few weeks. So why not agree on the broad objectives for the region, and then identify the issues on which the United States and Pakistan’s interests diverge and see how both sides can live with those differences.
Both countries will need to slowly rebuild trust in each other. Pakistan will need to reorder its priorities to eliminate terrorists inside its boundaries, local and foreign, and end any ambiguities involving its regional interests and the use of proxies in neighboring countries. It has suffered much from the blowback of past adventures involving non-state actors who have gone rogue or become anti-state. The Coalition Support Funds should be replaced with a written agreement on what Pakistan needs and what the United States can realistically supply.
George Perkovich (How to Reduce Pakistan’s Leverage)
Aid is not the only independent variable that affects Pakistan. Other things the U.S. says and does are important, too.
For example, the United States’ effort to help India become a global power, including by building up its nuclear and advanced conventional armories, makes the Pakistani establishment ever more angry and distrustful of the United States. The deployment of unaccountable mercenaries like Raymond Davis turns average Pakistanis against the U.S. These and other U.S. policies, including drone attacks in the tribal areas, may be tactically necessary because Pakistan’s own security establishment will not do its best to counter terrorists acting against India and Afghanistan. India’s growing power and importance inevitably will make the U.S. and others seek favorable terms of cooperation with it.
But aid combined with these other U.S. policies clearly has not changed the Pakistani military’s obsession with contesting India. There is nothing India or the United States can realistically do that will change this self-destructive obsession because the problem is India’s existence itself.
The pattern in U.S.-Pakistan relations merely repeats mutual frustrations and failings since the early 1950s. The U.S. always treats Pakistan as a means to achieve a larger end — preventing the export of terrorism from Afghanistan now — and Pakistan uses the U.S. to build capabilities to fight India. In fact, Pakistan is more important than Afghanistan, and too important to instrumentalize.
The U.S. would do less harm, and perhaps more good, by seeking the most friendly possible end of the symbiotic relationship with the Pakistani Army and intelligence services. By moving decisively to negotiate conditions for the withdrawal of most U.S. military forces from Afghanistan, the U.S. would greatly reduce its reliance on the Pakistani security establishment and that establishment’s leverage on Washington. The U.S. could then concentrate on Pakistan’s civilian political-economic development, offering assistance only in and as the Pakistani state itself is clearly committed to combating terrorism and promoting internal development.
Aqil Shah (Help Civilian Security Forces)
The Pakistani military has received the bulk of the $20 billion in U.S aid to Pakistan since 2001. In return, its Inter-Services Intelligence (I.S.I.) has reportedly helped the U.S. catch hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives, including several “high value targets.”
But the Pakistani military has pursued a pick and choose approach to counterterrorism, selectively fighting the “bad” (Pakistani) Taliban that attack its troops and installations, while providing sanctuary and support to the “good” Afghan Taliban (and other militant groups like the Haqqani network) to outbid archrival India in Kabul, especially once the U.S. exits the region.
The U.S government knows this, and has kept up the pressure on the Pakistani military to change its ways, while stopping short of any drastic steps for fear of losing the country’s cooperation in the war on terror. But the discovery of Osama bin Laden in a compound near the military’s main training academy in Abbottabad has brought already strained ties to a breaking point. Several U.S. lawmakers have now called for halting aid to Pakistan.Cutting off all aid is a bad idea. Nuclear-armed Pakistan needs civilian assistance both for short-term economic stabilization and long-term growth. The U.S. has legitimate concerns about Pakistani government corruption and its capacity to properly utilize the aid. But rather than slowing or suspending aid, Washington should demand transparency from Pakistani authorities while helping them build local capacity.
Although civilian aid must continue, the U.S. should reevaluate its security assistance to Pakistan. First, it should signal to the Pakistan military that it will no longer tolerate its prevarication on eliminating terrorist safe havens on Pakistani territory, period. Tough love may not produce an overnight policy shift but it will raise the costs to the military of behaving badly.
Second, security assistance should be used to support and build partnerships with Pakistan’s civilian security apparatus, like the police and the federal Intelligence Bureau, which are crucial to fighting terrorism but receive only a fraction of U.S. support. These organizations lack sophisticated counterterrorism capabilities, but they have on-the-ground expertise and intelligence networks to tackle militant groups at least in the nontribal areas under their jurisdiction, especially if the I.S.I. lets them do their job. Most important, these agencies are accountable to the civilian government, led by the Pakistan People’s Party, which may be politically compelled to rally behind the generals but unambiguously supports the fight against terror.
The United States helped prop up the Pakistani military during the cold war, the least it can do is use its political, economic and diplomatic influence to help Pakistan’s civil society and political parties put the genie back in the bottle. An economically sound, democratically governed Pakistan would be a far more reliable partner in fighting violent extremism in the region than the militarized state that it is today.
Karl F. Inderfurth (Going from Bad to Worse)
The U.S. has poured over $20 billion into Pakistan since 9/11. We haven’t gotten our money’s worth, but neither have the Pakistanis.
Most of this money went to the Pakistani military, but how it was spent we don’t really know. There was little accountability, by either side. Certainly the $20 billion didn’t win “hearts and minds” in Pakistan, since very little of it ever found its way to programs that would touch the lives of the Pakistani people.
Today relations between Washington and Islamabad are on a knife’s edge. Actions taken by both countries – seen by each as dictated by their own national security and sovereign interests – have placed the two counties on a collision course. Following the U.S. raid that killed Bin Laden, Pakistan has upped the ante by outing the C.I.A.’s station chief. Can it get any worse? Yes. And both countries will be losers.
What is needed now is not further precipitate actions, but a “strategic pause” to see if a recalibration of our relations can be achieved. In this regard, cutting U.S. aid at this time will only accelerate the downward spiral we find ourselves in.
Reza Nasim Jan (A Necessary Ally)
Americans angry at the possible role Pakistan’s security establishment may have played in sheltering Osama Bin Laden would find cutting U.S. aid to Pakistan deeply satisfying. But prudence cautions against such drastic action.
Whether or not the U.S. cuts aid to Pakistan should be based on three basic tests: Would cutting aid change Pakistani behavior for the better; would the result be worth the fallout; and is U.S. assistance to Pakistan in the national interest? For those eager to drop the ax, the answers are, on balance, clear: no, no and yes.
Historically, U.S. aid has been limited in its ability to wean Pakistan away from its support for militant Islamists. Pakistani action is driven by perceptions of its own strategic interests and money alone is unlikely to stop Islamabad from using the Haqqani network or Lashkar-e-Taiba as tools of policy. Cutting aid will certainly not encourage Pakistan to take further action against members of Al Qaeda.
Changing Pakistan’s behavior requires adjusting its strategic paradigm, which can only be affected by sustained U.S. commitment to Pakistan’s fears and regional interests and, ultimately, by success in Afghanistan. Cutting aid, done before, has the reverse effect. The “Pressler years” of the 90s, when Pakistan was cast out of international polite society, did little to reform Pakistan’s behavior but did, arguably, help fuel much of the animosity that causes it to continue to see the U.S. as an unreliable ally.
In reality, the U.S. does care about the stability of Pakistan; it is the theater where the war against Al Qaeda is ultimately going to be won or lost. It is also a pitifully poor, unstable, nuclear-armed country of 180 million people on the wrong side of a radicalization trend. Destabilizing Pakistan is not the way forward.
Lisa Curtis (Suspend Aid, but Don’t Halt it)
The Pakistanis could be seeking to ease U.S. concerns about why Osama bin Laden was able to hide for six years in a conspicuous compound in a military cantonment town. Instead, they’re trying to make themselves the aggrieved party.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani’s defiant tone in remarks made to parliament on Monday will only increase demands by U.S. lawmakers to withhold future aid to the country.
Washington should delay security assistance until Pakistan demonstrates it is breaking longstanding links between its intelligence services and terrorists, and is fully meeting conditions established by the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009.
U.S. officials want to work with Islamabad, but they’re hinting that they’re prepared to repeat unilateral action against terrorist targets in Pakistan. The American ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, said it’s up to Pakistan to decide whether the U.S. pursues Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Taliban leader Mullah Omar and other terrorists on its own or in cooperation with Pakistani authorities.
Abruptly cutting off all aid to Pakistan isn’t the answer, and would likely come at a steep price to United States interests in the region. In that event, Pakistan could play its own cards, perhaps cutting NATO supply lines into Afghanistan and kicking American intelligence officials out of the country. Moreover, maintaining ties — however frayed— allows the U.S. to help keep Pakistan’s nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.
The information recovered at Bin Laden’s compound should help U.S. officials determine the nature of his relationship with the Pakistani intelligence service — the ISI. The question is whether there was explicit knowledge of his location or whether the ISI simply turned a blind eye to a situation that it should have pursued. Whether the ISI was complicit or incompetent is a crucial question that requires answers before further aid is disbursed.