Pakistan, Friend or Foe?

After recent events, some consider the Pakistanis as foes while others still think of them as somewhat of an ally.  Pakistan is a major Islamic nuclear power and has within its borders many strong separatist, ethnic, and terrorist groups.  After speaking to some experts they all agreed that the relationship with Pakistan is very tenuous. 

In its short forty year history the Pakistani government has fluctuated between civilian and military rule.  Currently there is a civilian government led by President Zardari.  However, Pakistan cannot seem to control the radical Islamic elements within the country.  Most of those interviewed feel that the relationship with Pakistan is entering a darker period because the government is dysfunctional and rules based on public opinion which is definitely anti-American.  Recently, America and Pakistan have been at odds over the Raymond Davis incident, publicly naming the CIA Station Chief, and the blasphemy killings of those supporting religious tolerance.

Since 9/11 the US- Pakistani relationship has been very complex. Pakistani cooperation with the US has always been in the grey area. The former ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra, believes that the relationship has "always been difficult.  It wasn't that two years ago it was a bright, beautiful relationship and now it's taken an ugly turn.  It is probably more difficult now than it was a few years ago.  The Pakistani intelligence is infiltrated with people sympathetic to the radical extremists who are anti-US.  They are the ones who have released the information (such as outing the CIA Station Chief)."

It appears that the Pakistanis are becoming less of a partner in the War on Terror; even though Pakistan is seriously threatened by radical terrorists as evidenced by the numerous suicide bombings used to squelch the opposition.  A former high ranking CIA official explained that "In some ways they have been our best ally on terrorism.  They helped capture some of the biggest terrorists.  On the other hand, there are elements within the Pakistani Intelligence and the Government that are sympathetic to the Taliban.  From their point of view they see us transitioning out in 2011 so they hedge their bets. The radical elements are becoming more and more dominant.  They don't win elections but no one is supporting a policy against them because they are afraid of being killed, and do not see America as a long term partner."

Currently, America is also questioning the partnership with Pakistan. The Raymond Davis incident is a huge thorn affecting the relationship. After being attacked by two armed men in January in Lahore, Pakistan it appears that Davis shot and killed both men in self-defense. Davis is a US veteran, a former Special Forces soldier, and is an official diplomat according to President Obama.  Pakistan arrested him and charged him with murder. The House of Representatives introduced a resolution to freeze American aid to Pakistan until Davis is released.  Although Davis has just been released all interviewed agree with a former operative who angrily stated that "friends don't do that to friends.  A true friend would have released Davis immediately and would have spun it to their people." A former senior CIA official also felt that the way this incident was handled by Pakistan shows that cooperation is not what it used to be and that the relationship "is pretty troubled. Having to pay blood money to release an official diplomat is ridiculous."

How should America react if the relationship continues to go from bad to worse?  Those interviewed felt that there is no good answer since America does not want to sever relations and wants a working relationship with Pakistan.  However, with that said they also strongly advocate that the US should take whatever action is necessary to support our troops and interests. Based on the circumstances, America might need to take more covert and unilateral action in the tribal areas along the Afghanistan border.  As a former CIA analyst stated, "if you have 100% of your land and can only govern effectively 85% of it, that presents a problem that can grow...that can turn into safe havens (for the extremists). By its very nature the territory is called 'ungoverned areas' which means the government has never controlled those areas nor have they tried to control it." 

American Thinker was told that the joint operations have definitely slowed down and that the Pakistani Government might reduce the number of supported drone attacks.  In that worst case scenario the United States must get tough with Pakistan and mince no words that action will be taken against the terrorists to ensure America's safety and Pakistan will only be given a minimal amount of lead time for them to save face by appearing to be a willing partner.

All interviewed are still hoping that common ground can be found and see it as a long term project.  Michael Hayden, the former CIA Director summarized everyone's feelings that "we want to keep as much cooperation with Pakistan as possible.  There is no such thing as a complete ally."  With the carrot and stick policy of offering economic incentives yet leaning on them to be a better partner in counter-terrorism, there is still hope that Pakistan will move into the area of being more of a friend than a foe.
After recent events, some consider the Pakistanis as foes while others still think of them as somewhat of an ally.  Pakistan is a major Islamic nuclear power and has within its borders many strong separatist, ethnic, and terrorist groups.  After speaking to some experts they all agreed that the relationship with Pakistan is very tenuous. 

In its short forty year history the Pakistani government has fluctuated between civilian and military rule.  Currently there is a civilian government led by President Zardari.  However, Pakistan cannot seem to control the radical Islamic elements within the country.  Most of those interviewed feel that the relationship with Pakistan is entering a darker period because the government is dysfunctional and rules based on public opinion which is definitely anti-American.  Recently, America and Pakistan have been at odds over the Raymond Davis incident, publicly naming the CIA Station Chief, and the blasphemy killings of those supporting religious tolerance.

Since 9/11 the US- Pakistani relationship has been very complex. Pakistani cooperation with the US has always been in the grey area. The former ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra, believes that the relationship has "always been difficult.  It wasn't that two years ago it was a bright, beautiful relationship and now it's taken an ugly turn.  It is probably more difficult now than it was a few years ago.  The Pakistani intelligence is infiltrated with people sympathetic to the radical extremists who are anti-US.  They are the ones who have released the information (such as outing the CIA Station Chief)."

It appears that the Pakistanis are becoming less of a partner in the War on Terror; even though Pakistan is seriously threatened by radical terrorists as evidenced by the numerous suicide bombings used to squelch the opposition.  A former high ranking CIA official explained that "In some ways they have been our best ally on terrorism.  They helped capture some of the biggest terrorists.  On the other hand, there are elements within the Pakistani Intelligence and the Government that are sympathetic to the Taliban.  From their point of view they see us transitioning out in 2011 so they hedge their bets. The radical elements are becoming more and more dominant.  They don't win elections but no one is supporting a policy against them because they are afraid of being killed, and do not see America as a long term partner."

Currently, America is also questioning the partnership with Pakistan. The Raymond Davis incident is a huge thorn affecting the relationship. After being attacked by two armed men in January in Lahore, Pakistan it appears that Davis shot and killed both men in self-defense. Davis is a US veteran, a former Special Forces soldier, and is an official diplomat according to President Obama.  Pakistan arrested him and charged him with murder. The House of Representatives introduced a resolution to freeze American aid to Pakistan until Davis is released.  Although Davis has just been released all interviewed agree with a former operative who angrily stated that "friends don't do that to friends.  A true friend would have released Davis immediately and would have spun it to their people." A former senior CIA official also felt that the way this incident was handled by Pakistan shows that cooperation is not what it used to be and that the relationship "is pretty troubled. Having to pay blood money to release an official diplomat is ridiculous."

How should America react if the relationship continues to go from bad to worse?  Those interviewed felt that there is no good answer since America does not want to sever relations and wants a working relationship with Pakistan.  However, with that said they also strongly advocate that the US should take whatever action is necessary to support our troops and interests. Based on the circumstances, America might need to take more covert and unilateral action in the tribal areas along the Afghanistan border.  As a former CIA analyst stated, "if you have 100% of your land and can only govern effectively 85% of it, that presents a problem that can grow...that can turn into safe havens (for the extremists). By its very nature the territory is called 'ungoverned areas' which means the government has never controlled those areas nor have they tried to control it." 

American Thinker was told that the joint operations have definitely slowed down and that the Pakistani Government might reduce the number of supported drone attacks.  In that worst case scenario the United States must get tough with Pakistan and mince no words that action will be taken against the terrorists to ensure America's safety and Pakistan will only be given a minimal amount of lead time for them to save face by appearing to be a willing partner.

All interviewed are still hoping that common ground can be found and see it as a long term project.  Michael Hayden, the former CIA Director summarized everyone's feelings that "we want to keep as much cooperation with Pakistan as possible.  There is no such thing as a complete ally."  With the carrot and stick policy of offering economic incentives yet leaning on them to be a better partner in counter-terrorism, there is still hope that Pakistan will move into the area of being more of a friend than a foe.

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