Dr. Thomas Lynch III on "Pakistan and the United States at a Strategic Crossroads" with New America
"Pakistan and the United States At a Strategic Crossroads"
Col. Thomas Lynch III, Center for Strategic Research (CSR) study group member
National Security Studies Program Policy Paper, New America Foundation
Pakistan, and Pakistani-American relations, confront their worst crises in recent memory. A host of interlocking challenges—grounded in a deteriorating economy—call into question Pakistan’s ability to “muddle through” as it has in the past, and the next two or three years pose a crucial test for the country’s efforts to arrest continuing socioeconomic decline. Meanwhile, U.S.-Pakistan relations are also imperiled: The two nations cannot continue the patterns of the last decade, an era of transactionalism and hidden agendas cloaked in the language of a “strategic partnership” that represented neither a genuine partnership nor a strategic approach to mutual challenges.
It is true that forecasts of a “collapse” of Pakistan have repeatedly proven wrong; and while it is difficult to know why, hard-to-measure pillars of stability counteract sources of destabilization. Slowly accumulating positive trends get little notice amid generally negative analyses, but rising standards of living (at least until recently); a powerful “grey” economy, including remittances; the emergence of an independent judiciary and a free (if raucous) media; the electoral failure of radical Islamist parties; a civilian government about to complete its full term; energetic military responses to extremist movements in Swat and South Waziristan, which have involved nearly 150,000 troops and cost the Pakistani military over 3,000 combat dead; steadily growing public rejections of extremism and the Taliban—these and other realities suggest some areas of strength on which to build.
Yet an awareness of these same residual strengths can undermine the sense of urgency necessary to inspire real change. In the past, for example, large flows of external financing such as remittances and foreign assistance have provided a cushion and disincentive for tough economic reform. The scale and seriousness of the current crisis cannot be discounted; existing patterns of behavior, and current policy responses to major challenges, are not having the necessary results. The time has come to develop a new strategic concept, reflecting emerging patterns of world politics and regional developments, to guide Pakistanis in their search for priorities and both the United States and Pakistan in managing this crucial relationship.
« Read More News & Events