US experts suggest Pakistan policy relook

December 17th, 2011 - 4:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 17 (IANS) Amidst a tense standoff with Pakistan, US experts have suggested a strategic relook at Washington’s policies to ensure that international terrorists are rooted out from both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Noting that Pakistani leaders have demonstrated little interest in assisting the US with efforts to start a political reconciliation process inside Afghanistan, Lisa Curtis, a South Asia expert at the Heritage Foundation suggested it’s time for US policymakers to consider alternative policy options.

The US has focused most of its diplomatic efforts with Pakistan in recent years on trying to find common ground on Afghanistan and encouraging better ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan on one hand and India and Pakistan on the other, she said.

“Without a shift in Pakistan’s policies to encourage a genuine reconciliation process inside Afghanistan, the US must be prepared to pursue a strategy in which it works more closely with Afghanistan’s other neighbours,” Curtis said.

Colin Cookman and Bill French, experts at Centre for American Progress, another Washington think tank, said the basic reason for the signal failure in US-Pakistani relations is the inability of the two countries to establish an enduring basis of common strategic purpose.

US priorities have shifted from nuclear proliferation to the containment of the Soviet Union to the condemnation of military rule to counterterrorism cooperation to current tensions over the outcome of the Afghanistan conflict, they said.

In contrast Pakistan is consumed with its regional rivalry with India, a concern for a relatively stable and pliable neighbour in Afghanistan, and its own internal political and economic crises.

However, Pakistan’s constructive support will be a necessity for achieving some measure of stability in Afghanistan, Cookman and French said.

Thus “the Obama administration must be careful when considering how to structure new aid terms, as well as promises of assistance or threats of a cutoff, while still maintaining a serious level of engagement with Islamabad.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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