Michael KreponU.S.-Pakistan Relations and the Big Stick

Quote of the week:

“The great American pastime is no longer baseball. Now it’s sanctimony.”
– Nathan Hill, The Nix

Does it make sense for the Trump Administration and the Congress to try to bludgeon Pakistan into doing Washington’s bidding, including the threat of labeling Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism? I don’t think so, but my side of the argument is losing ground. And if there is another major terrorist act in India and the United States that can be traced back to Pakistan, this debate could well be over.

The “squeeze Pakistan” camp is on the rise in Washington. There are three major complaints, all of which have plentiful justification. The first is Pakistan’s continued collusion with the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban. (My colleague at Stimson, Sameer Lalwani, tells me that the Haqqani network is responsible for less than fifteen per cent of the violence in Afghanistan, but remains a bête noire on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon for killing U.S. troops.) The second complaint is harboring anti-India groups that carry out violent acts within India and in Afghanistan. The third is the pace and scope of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon-related programs, characterized by a senior official in the Obama Administration as the fastest-growing arsenal in the world.

Pakistan has paid heavily for these choices, which are made in Rawalpindi and not Islamabad. Its international standing has plummeted while India’s has risen. Its ties with Washington have frayed badly as the United States improves defense and strategic cooperation with India. Pakistan’s economic growth has underperformed its potential, and foreign direct investment (China excepted) has dwindled. Ditto for hard currency as exports decline. Pakistan’s relations with neighboring states have deteriorated, and its diplomacy has been shackled by talking points that lost traction many years ago.

Over the past two years, the Congress has begun to impose additional penalties by cutting Coalition Support Funding to Pakistan and refusing to provide financing help for the sale of additional F-16 aircraft. Far more needs to be done, according to a report by the Hudson Institute and the Heritage Foundation co-authored by Husain Haqqani and Lisa Curtis, who argue:

“[T]he objective of the Trump administration’s policy toward Pakistan must be to make it more and more costly for Pakistani leaders to employ a strategy of supporting terrorist proxies to achieve regional strategic goals. There should be no ambiguity that the U.S. considers Pakistan’s strategy of supporting terrorist proxies to achieve regional strategic advantage as a threat to U.S. interests.”

As for the ultimate U.S. sanction, Husain, Lisa, and their co-signatories conclude that, “Designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, as some U.S. congressional members have advised, is unwise in the first year of a new administration, but should be kept as an option for the longer term.” The “longer term” of the Trump Administration isn’t all that long.

House Foreign Affairs Committee hearings have become notable for Pakistan-bashing. One of the Committee’s senior Republicans, Ted Poe, provided opening remarks at an event sponsored by hard-right-leaning American Foreign Policy Council on “The Appalling ‘Ally’: Has Congress Lost Patience with Pakistan?”

My beef isn’t with critiques of Pakistan’s behavior. Clarifying the negative consequences of Rawalpindi’s choices is essential; otherwise, prospects for positive change will remain remote. But the impulse to isolate, stigmatize and punish Pakistan won’t produce the outcomes that are best for Pakistan, India, and the United States. It’s unlikely that tightening the screws on Rawalpindi will change civil-military relations. Instead, if Pakistan is isolated, the losers will include those who seek change for the better.

Labeling Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism would be a profoundly unwise move. The leverage this threat provides would be lost with its execution, along with the likelihood of remedial steps. The terrorism issue, as important as it is, is less consequential than the nuclear issue. Rawalpindi has figured this out, which helps explain why it doesn’t deliver on promises to take more than cosmetic action against the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad leadership.

Washington’s impulse to punish isn’t confined to Pakistan. Tough talkers dominate U.S politics, which has benefitted the Republican Party during the Obama years. Obama’s diplomatic initiatives to reduce nuclear dangers faced a gantlet of harsh criticism. The Trump Administration lacks the expertise and inclination to pursue nuclear diplomacy – and seems in no hurry to find it. Trump never learned how to talk softly; he just brandishes a big stick.

Full disclosure: I, too, have advocated clarifying penalties for Rawalpindi’s choices, recognizing that private demarches haven’t worked and need back-up. But neither will public witch trials. Herein lies the dilemma of U.S. diplomacy – and for all those who wish to preserve and improve ties to Pakistan. Washington will lose more influence over Rawalpindi’s choices than it will gain by wielding big sticks and raising the state sponsor of terrorism threat like the sword of Damocles. And yet, carrots don’t work, either.

There is evidence of learning and change in some areas of Pakistan’s national security, but not in others. Rawalpindi’s thinking has clearly changed about taking on former proxies, albeit selectively. A new counter-terrorism campaign, Operation Radd ul-Fasaad, has begun to widen the net, most notably in the Punjab. As with previous campaigns, this one was forced by painful embarrassment and loss of life due to weak implementation of prior commitments to fight extremism.

Pakistan’s political and military leaders are now riding on a wobbly bicycle. They can either continue to move forward or fall behind. Falling behind means failing to succeed in tackling Pakistan’s internal security and image problems – and quite possibly inviting another near-war scenario with India, if not worse. Pakistan will remain stigmatized for as long as its military and political leaders refrain from tackling men like Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar. Even so, continued U.S. engagement in this domain is required, not righteous indignation, excoriation, and banishment. The rate of Pakistan’s positive change will depend on internal decisions that are, in turn, shaped by external pressures. External pressures work best when they don’t demand kowtowing to Washington.

Relations between Pakistan and India, as well as between Pakistan and Afghanistan, are volatile, as is evidenced by raids and firing across unsettled borders. A major crisis between India and Pakistan could well occur during the Trump Administration. The United States is obliged to function as an effective crisis manager, which won’t happen by shunning Pakistan. What role do those leading the charge to squeeze Pakistan propose for U.S. crisis management and war prevention?

Pakistan’s military leaders are making truly bad decisions about nuclear weapons. They are investing heavily in warheads and missiles of last resort while trusting that deterrence will succeed so that they will not have to use nuclear weapons first in a war triggered by their own incompetence or collusion with anti-India extremists based in Pakistan.

Under these circumstances, Pakistan’s first use of nuclear weapons on a battlefield – after seven decades of non-use worldwide – will establish its pariah status beyond recall. Pakistan loses either way: by believing that deterrence requires a nuclear competition with India, and by believing that a breakdown in deterrence can be solved by the first use of nuclear weapons.

A recalibration of defense expenditures – between nuclear weapons that Pakistan’s leaders dare not use and conventional weapons that are Pakistan’s first line of internal and national defense – can only be made in Rawalpindi. There’s no telling how long it will take for Pakistan’s military leaders to figure this out, but by trying to isolate Pakistan, Washington will only reinforce the mistaken value Rawalpindi places on nuclear weapons.

As for Afghanistan, the convergence of U.S. and Pakistan interests does not appear to extend beyond generalities, like the need for a political settlement. Such nostrums break down where the rubber meets the road – over the composition of a coalition government in Kabul, the contest for influence between Pakistan and India, and the actions of the Afghan Taliban, which Rawalpindi may again discover are beyond its ability to control.

The missteps of both Pakistan and the United States in Afghanistan are already legion, the result of pipe dreams dashed by harsh realities. One of Washington’s pipe dreams is the belief that Pakistan can be muscled into subordinating its own perceived interests in Afghanistan to those of the United States. More convergence is possible if Rawalpindi can re-think its Afghan strategy, but this heavy lift – as with trying to change Pakistan’s open-ended embrace of nuclear weapons and its anti-India policy – won’t occur by wielding a big stick.

Even if Rawalpindi changes some aspects of its Afghan policy, bridging differences with the United States seems unlikely. Pakistan is more strongly committed to its policies in Afghanistan, however mistaken, than is the United States. At the same time, the future of Pakistan is more important to the United States than the future of Afghanistan. Any U.S. policy that seeks to sacrifice the former for the latter, as some Pakistan squeezers and bashers seem to demand, is folly.

So, where does this leave U.S.-Pakistan relations? In a bad place. Washington’s ability to change Pakistan’s policies toward Afghanistan, India, and nuclear weapons is limited. Carrots and sticks work only at the margins. Pakistan can expect continued penalties unless its national-security policies change in some important respects, and expect big penalties after big explosions. Lasting change for the better will come only if Rawalpindi changes course.

In the meantime, Washington’s priorities are to stay engaged, clarify the consequences of Pakistan’s present course, work on reducing nuclear dangers during this period of intensified competition, and prepare for crisis management.

Note to readers: A version of this essay previously appeared in The Herald in Pakistan.


  1. Aaron Upright (History)

    The article is flawed as it is predicated upon very faulty premises.
    1) That the US as the indispensable nation for Pakistan. Those days are long gone. Pakistan’s most important relationships are now with China and its CPEC/One Belt One Road, which is bringing in unprecedented levels of investment in the infrastructure of the Country. At the same time improvement of relations with Russia and the increase in strategic relations with Turkey and other major regional powers means that the US is less relevant than probably anytime before the 1950’s and the U.S’a abilty to influence through is limited.

    2) The bit on the economy is also pretty outdated, he obviously has not been following the latest trends. Their has been a staggering fall in poverty over the past 15 years per the WB (http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/935241478612633044/pdf/109961-WP-PUBLIC-disclosed-11-9-16-5-pm-Pakistan-Development-Update-Fall-2016-with-compressed-pics.pdf, ).The Middle Class has been rising every year (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/02/21/beyond-the-headlines-of-terrorism-pakistans-economy-is-on-the-rise/?utm_term=.a89816fd50cd) and may npw constitute a majority.

    Shahid Javed Burki says that the GDP is almost certainly underestimated https://tribune.com.pk/story/1346902/real-size-pakistans-gross-domestic-product/

    Michael Krepon is a fine writer, but in this post he seems like the Kremlinologists of the late 1980’s, unable to grasp a changing world where the old certainties no longer predominate.

    • Michael Krepon (History)

      The author has a point: I didn’t predict the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
      I am also on weak ground when it comes to economics. Definitely not my strong suit. I, too, have noted reporting on the progress in building a middle class, and am heartened by it. I have also read reports about Pakistan’s growth rate, as well as its growing debt. Exports are down, which can’t be good. I worry that Pakistan is putting too many eggs in the CPEC basket, and not protecting its interests well enough in negotiations with the Chinese. An economically healthy Pakistan is the key to everything good about Pakistan’s future. That’s why I mention some factors that would seem to be concerning with respect to Pakistan’s long-term growth. Is my analysis here mistaken or out of date?

  2. Yasser H (History)

    Great article and refreshing from the usual bash Pakistan “analysis” we often see…

  3. Donald Smith (History)

    What are you talking about ? You believe whatever India says just because it is not an Islamic republic ? Anti India militants are inside the Indian held Kashmir ! As far as Afghanistan is concerned then Pakistan has been a victim of terrorists that came from Afghanistan after the US invasion ! Who the hell is Haqqani Network ? Pakistan will send back all Afghan refugees next year and there will be no Haqqani’s in Pakistan ! Why doesn’t the US act against TTP in Afghanistan ? Why was Afghanistan providing shelter to TTP terrorists ? Now that TTP has pledged its alliance with ISIS and that ISIS is now again launching cross border terror attacks in Pakistan from Afghanistan ! You Americans will change your attitude when Russia and China will intervene in Afghanistan ! That parliament attack in India is more important for you than the attack on Army public school in Pakistan ! No body claimed responsibility for the Mumbai attack from Pakistan but terrorists in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack on Army public school in Peshawar and they said they killed those children because their parents helped America !

  4. Syed Muhammad Ali (History)

    Michael, I agree with you. The world has a vital interest in maintaining peace and preventing nuclear war in South Asia. That is a reality but not the complete reality. The seasonal and stringent off-the shelf carrots which the U.S. occasionally offers to the Pakistani state have shrunk enormously while China is sowing large, lasting and unconditional investments in the Pakistani nation. Secondly, Pakistan is worried about Washington’s growing use of Indian lens to deal with it on India, Afghanistan and nuclear issues. Third, the arrest of Indian Commander Yadev in Baluchistan, PM Modi’s proud ownership of Mukti Bahini in former East Pakistan and continued support for Tamils in Sri Lanka are evidences that terrorism is not just a Post-9/11 U.S. or Indian problem but has remained an instrument of Indian foreign policy since 1960s against its neighbours. Fourth, in the absence of a bigger or a more durable incentive, coercing Pakistan to change its policies will only antagonise Pakistan further, harm U.S. regional interests and reduce its leverge. Fifth, it would be unwise for the world’s largest military power to compete with the world’s biggest banker, particularly when it is itself heavily borrowing from that banker. Sixth, it is unfortunate that some folks in the U.S. establishment are advising Trump Administration to coerce its old ally, when it is willingly to talk to Cuba, do business with Iran and borrow from China. Perhaps, like you convincingly wrote a few years ago, the limits of U.S. influence over Pakistan are increasing. The sooner Washington recovers from its habit of preferring coercion over incentives, the better for the U.S. and its relations with the world. Despite some divergent interests, for a normal, durable and mutually beneficial Pak-U.S. relations to evolve, it is prudent to learn from the long and futile list of U.S. sanctions against Pakistan and consider evolving lasting incentives, mechanisms and investments in this complex, difficult but significant relationship. Perhaps for strategic guidance, Trump Administration, its friends, advisors and scholars need to reflect on these wise and timeless words of Thomas Jefferson. “I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.” Syed Muhammad Ali.

    • Michael Krepon (History)

      Muhammad Ali:
      Where is Thomas Jeffereson when you really need him?
      Best wishes,

    • Michael Krepon (History)

      Not to mention Jinnah…

  5. kim smith (History)

    Most of these writers are working for Agencies and pushing their agenda of destabilizing Pakistan . Their main goal is neutralize and dis-mental Pakistan N-Assets.. In fact terrorists have been attacking inside Pakistan for many years even just last month over 100 people have died… Those Terrorist have been trained in Afghanistan and funded by Indian Raw. India also using Farkhor Air Base in Tajikistan(Indian RAW owned) to terrorists training.

  6. Thair (History)

    The easiest fix is a guarantee, that India won’t flex its muscles and undermine Pakistan. The Pakistani people only wants to be treated equally as India. Regarding the guarantee, the US have bad history with Pakistani people to leave them hanging once US thinks it goals are met. The declaration of Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism and sanctions by US are only considered cost of business.

  7. Rabia (History)

    Instead of all this Pakistan must now improve its relations with Russia and with Chinese. We now needs to stop now for Do More concept but rather must move on in making our new avenues as this US-PAk relation is no more a beneficial for Pakistan.

  8. San Mann (History)

    I see apologists for Pakistan showing up here in the comments section to downplay and even justify its rogue behavior. Pakistan is in Afghanistan the way that Russia is in the Ukraine – I’d like to ask Krepon if he feels that sanctions on Russia are similarly diminishing US leverage with Moscow. The fact is that Pakistan doesn’t respect the sovereignty of its neighbors, and Kashmir is not a cause but a symptom of that. Just as sanctions have been used to pressure Russia and North Korea, likewise sanctions can be used to pressure Pakistan. Talk of clarification of consequences is meaningless when the other party knows those consequences will never be applied, no matter how clearly they’re stated. The attitudes of not only Pakistan, but also those who argue against taking action against it, are proof that nuclear weapons confers teflon status on any irresponsible state that possesses them, no matter how egregious its behavior. Iranians should disseminate blogs like this to their countrymen, to show them how handsomely it pays to be a nuclear weapons state, no matter what the diplomatic consequences.

  9. Michael Krepon (History)

    Dear ACW Readers: Here is a rejoinder to my blog post that Lisa Curtis wrote for her blog. Lisa is more than a colleague; we’ve traveled on some similar paths. She is always worth reading. — MK

    Terror, Nukes, and False Choices: Debating Way Forward with Pakistan

    By Lisa Curtis

    Michael Krepon, co-founder of the U.S.-based Stimson Center, whose views are widely respected both in the region and in Washington, has written a thought-provoking piece on the future of U.S. policy toward Pakistan, “U.S.-Pakistan Relations and the Big Stick.”

    In the article, Krepon argues in favor of a status quo U.S. policy toward Pakistan that relies solely on inducements and engagement, despite acknowledging that this policy approach has been ineffective in convincing Pakistan to crack down on some terrorist groups that endanger core U.S. national security interests in the region.

    Krepon’s main reason for favoring a status quo policy that does not levy consequences on Pakistan for continued support to international terrorist groups rests largely on the idea that the nuclear issue is more important than the terrorism issue. In other words, Krepon seems to believe that if the U.S. penalizes Pakistan for its continued support for some terrorist groups, the U.S. will lose leverage with regard to keeping Pakistan’s nuclear weapons safe and secure. Krepon also argues in his piece that, “… the future of Pakistan is more important to the United States than the future of Afghanistan.”

    Both assertions rely on false choices and confuse the problem at hand. One of the primary U.S. concerns regarding Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is the danger that they could fall into terrorist hands. Another concern is that Pakistan would use its nuclear weapons in a potential conflict with India.

    Additionally, if the Taliban make further territorial gains in Afghanistan (in part with the help of their sanctuary inside Pakistan), this will facilitate the revival of al-Qaeda in the region and boost the morale of Islamist extremists across the globe.

    Thus giving up on pressing Pakistan to crack down harder on terrorist groups within its territory equates to conceding ground on preventing three very dangerous potential regional scenarios.

    Krepon’s status quo policy would likely lead to the growth of anti-India terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba that conducted the 2008 Mumbai attacks that nearly led to military conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbors. Moreover, U.S. acquiescence to Pakistan’s continued support for some terrorist groups would allow an overall conducive environment for terrorism to thrive in the country, a situation that puts Pakistan’s long-term stability at risk.

    It is precisely because of these dangers — threat of an Indo-Pakistani conflict that could go nuclear; the potential nexus between terror and nuclear weapons; instability of the Pakistan state from the blowback of supporting terrorism; and the need to stabilize Afghanistan — that I argue for a more pointed policy approach with Islamabad.

    This line of reasoning is spelled out in a report, “A New U.S. Approach to Pakistan: Enforcing Aid Conditions without Cutting Ties,” that I drafted with former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani and with input from several other U.S.-based Pakistan experts.

    The report recommends the Trump administration take a more clear-eyed, sharper policy toward Pakistan that includes consequences for Pakistani failure to rein in terror groups that threaten stability in Afghanistan as well as raise tension with India. The consequences include things like enforcing conditions on military aid and revoking Pakistan’s Major Non-NATO Ally Status.

    The report stops short of recommending Pakistan be declared a State Sponsor of Terrorism this year, although it recommends keeping the option open for the future. I have stated on numerous occasions my personal opposition to designating Pakistan a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Doing so would preclude the U.S. from providing any kind of aid to Pakistan and would lead to an irreparable breach in the relationship. While tightening U.S. counterterrorism policies toward Pakistan is necessary, it’s also not in the U.S. interest to make an enemy out of Pakistan.
    Our report revolves around the notion that change in Pakistani terrorism policies is not only desirable for U.S. security objectives but also for the sake of Pakistan’s own future. Our support for raising the bar on the Pakistanis should not be mischaracterized as an effort to stigmatize them, however, as Krepon’s article suggests. It is inaccurate to posit that any policy other than the status quo amounts to disengaging with Pakistan.
    Krepon’s argument seems to be that the U.S. should allow Pakistan to continue support for some terror groups and wait patiently until Pakistan itself realizes the cost of its dangerous behavior through what he refers to as a “clarifying process.”

    We believe the risks in the region are too acute and immediate to wait patiently and assume that Pakistan will eventually change its policies without incurring some international cost.

    At the same time, we also recommend the Trump administration should both publicly and privately maintain avenues for Pakistan to become a U.S. ally in the future. More specifically, we state, “Were Pakistan to cease its current tolerance of and support to terrorist groups, one can envisage grounds for common interest and policies on a range of issues that would form the basis of mutual interest. This could involve a package of trade and investment cooperation that would be mutually win-win for the economies of the United States and Pakistan.”

    Far from stigmatizing Pakistan or proposing a witch hunt, our report provides a sound and practical way forward for improving the prospects for stability in the region, reducing global terrorist threats, and providing the basis for a stronger U.S.-Pakistan partnership over the long-term.

  10. Michael Krepon (History)

    Many thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog post.
    I tend to operate between contending camps. This poses many hazards, including the hazard of being misread.
    So, let me try to be clearer: I do not favor a “status quo” approach to Pakistan, and even if I did, it would be doomed to failure. There is no status quo when it comes to Pakistan. Pakistan twists and turns. Sometimes it takes two steps forward and one step back; other times it takes one step forward and two steps back. There are, indeed, broad patterns to Pakistan’s internal and external policies — this I will grant. But there is also constant jockeying. This is one reason for the United States to remain engaged — a point on which we agree.
    There is more agreement than disagreement between us than you might suppose. I have written in favor of imposing penalties for poor choices by Rawalpindi with respect to extremist groups and nuclear weapons, and I have made my views known on these matters on Capitol Hill. My view is that penalties are warranted because private messaging hasn’t worked. And since U.S. military assistance to Pakistan has covered perhaps ten per cent of military expenditures, and since money is fungible, it is necessary for Washington to clarify the costs of Pakistan’s nuclear expenditures by withholding special financing assistance for big ticket items.
    The Congress will continue down this path unless Rawalpindi changes course. I acknowledge and support this alteration of the status quo.
    Like you, I am also open to reversing this trend line if Rawalpindi reverses course. If such changes are in the works, Pakistani leaders shouldn’t keep them a secret. But because change has been promised so often — and postponed so often — Pakistan has to walk its talk. The new military campaign is a start. But past practice suggests that it will be halting, and will not affect Pakistan’s Most Wanted List.
    We are also in agreement about not labeling Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. If the Heritage Foundation adopts your view, I have hope that vociferous members of congress who advocate this stance can be contained. I also acknowledge that another spectacular act of terrorism that originates in Pakistan can make this argument moot.
    If we agree on these points, then our disagreements will be tactical. And over word choice. I will stop using the words “stigmatize” and “witch hunt.”
    Best wishes,

  11. Cohanim McKenzie (History)

    The activities of Pakistan, has consistently demonstrated that, not only are they state sponsors of terrorism; on par with Iran and Saudi Arabia, but also that they work consistently to oppose and thwart American policy.

    Pakistan is directly responsible for aiding and abetting terrorism against American forces in Afghanistan and on several occasions has outed American intelligence personnel in Pakistan itself. I understand that we still require their cooperation to aid our efforts in Afghanistan, but Pakistan should have been number one on the list of banned muslim nations.

    American blood is on their hands.

  12. San Mann (History)

    Dr Krepon, you have on various occasions in the past complained of India’s lack of “generosity” to Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute. In case you haven’t heard of the latest developments, Pakistan is now declaring that it will carve the Gilgit-Baltistan portion away from Kashmir to newly annex it as Pakistan’s “5th province”. This move is causing alarm among all Kashmiris on both sides of the Line Of Control, and its legality is not being accepted by India one bit. Do you feel India is again being “ungenerous” in the face of Pakistan’s escalatory stuntsmanship? Pakistan appears to be taking its cues from China, which is freshly pressing Pakistan for changes to facilitate progress on the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor). The CPEC is of course a relatively new scheme from China stemming from its recent economic downturn. Is the reasonableness of India’s longstanding negotiating position on Kashmir to be judged based on whichever way China’s latest economic indicators happen to be pointing? Thank you for any specific wisdom you can provide.

  13. abbasbilgrami (History)

    Michael Krepon’s analysis may be somewhat flawed however the conclusion is correct. Pakistan and the USA need to keep talking. The Hussain Haqqani analysis is primarily suspect due to his desire for recognition by the current regime in Washington, he is basically looking for a job. Mr. Haqqani’s credentials as an analyst or commentator are also doubtful.

    The view that Islamabad is malleable but that Rawalpindi is the problem is misleading. The US’s main ally in the region has been Rawalpindi aka the Pakistani Armed Forces. Not always the political governments either in Pakistan, Afghanistan or India. Let’s not forget this. CENTO, SEATO and other ramshackle alliances which no longer exist were enthusiasticly supported by ‘Rawalpindi’.

    Pakistan’s relationship is a simple calculus as is the case of all international relations. If Pakistan is of some value to the US there will be engagement. Pakistan has seen time and again that it has been ditched by the US as an ally despite its many alliances. This understanding has finally sunk in, Pakistan is therefore realligning itself with China a economically and militarily. A large proportion of people also see little value in engagement with the US due to its short memory. Pakistan has been the victim in the Indian sub continent from the day of the flawed partition. The post colonial mess the Brits left behind and the political games Nehru played before and after 1947 are not lost on most Pakistani’s. The ‘police action’ in Indian Hyderabad in which tens of thousands were massacred, the Kashmir issue which has been the cause of so much more death , the violent take over of Junagadh and Manawadar states and the ultimate creation of Bangladesh through the intervention of the regional hegemon, India is a narrative lived everyday. Pakistan houses the largest refugee population of any other nation and therefore carries with it huge baggage. Yetsociety in Pakistan despite these incredible challenges survives and gets stronger.

    The current PM of India is a murderous and bigoted individual who has been clearly involved in the genocide of Muslims. So called Populist governments are rising all over the world. India has been the adance guard of what are essentially fascist movements whether the RSS in India or others in Europe or the KKK suported incumbent of the White House. Despite the money thrown at Pakistan’s religious right they are unlikely to ever get into government. This should indicate some difference between Pakistan and India and yet India has a RSS (read a fascist organisation) sponsored government.

    The presence of proxies like the Haqqani’s, Lashkar e Tayaba and others are throw backs to the Great Game played in the region whether the end of the USSR or the religious zealots of Saudia plotting to take over the generally moderate body politic in Pakistan and other muslim countries like Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia is often lost on outsiders. These matters are rarely discussed in the analysis of outsiders to the region. These games were played by the UK, USA and all those concerned about the Imperialist Czar or the Godless Communists.

    Finally Mr. Mckenzie’s comment on Mr. Krepon’s analysis is somewhat naive. The US has the blood of many many people and nations on its hands he should really not be lecturing on American blood being on Pakistani hands. The mote in ones eye is rarely seen.

    Mr. Krepon I thank you and value your analysis and views.