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Ending NATO’s Inexplicable Soft Spot for Pakistan

By Griffin W. Huschke, Mayme and Herb Frank Research Fellow

Last Friday, the United States announced it was providing Pakistan with another $2 billion in military aid, which will be directed  to bolster Pakistani troops engaging Islamic militants in the largely ungoverned mountainous region of the country.  The latest sum is meant to augment the already $7.5 billion promised to Pakistan by the United States for infrastructure projects and economic development.  Other NATO contributing nations have also provided millions in funding for Pakistani disaster relief and infrastructure projects.

This announcement comes at the end of a strategic series of meetings between the U.S. and Pakistan, but the overall timing is inauspicious.  A White House report released earlier this month detailed the many failings of the Pakistani army, and Zalmay Khalizad, the former Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, recently issued an op-ed in the New York Times claiming  that aid is simply not enough to force Pakistan to give up its support for militants.  From the article:

“To induce quicker and more significant changes, Washington must offer Islamabad a stark choice between positive incentives and negative consequences….The United States should demand that Pakistan shut down all sanctuaries and military support programs for insurgents or else we will carry out operations against those insurgent havens, with or without Pakistani consent. Arguments that such pressure would cause Pakistan to disintegrate are overstated. Pakistan’s institutions, particularly the country’s security organs, are sufficiently strong to preclude such an outcome.”

Other NATO nations have also been hesitant to take a hard line with Islamabad.  In July, British PM David Cameron said Pakistan must not be allowed to “promote the export of terror,” but met with Pakistani President Zadari several weeks later to mend ties.  Canada has joined with other nations to call for tough Pakistani action on Islamic militants, but quickly began facilitating Pakistani capacity building though the Dubai Process.

A simple joint statement from NATO nations would go a long way towards setting a tougher stance on Pakistan.  A multilateral declaration by some of Pakistan’s biggest boosters would lend credibility to the claims that Pakistan has not done enough to fight terrorism, and help create an incentive structure that encourages Pakistan to make positive changes.  A joint declaration would also emphasize a multilateral approach from transatlantic partners, which would increase the pressure on Islamabad more than the diplomatic protests of a single nation.  Otherwise, with Atlantic nations handing out billions in aid regardless Pakistan’s actions, Islamabad has little incentive to follow through on their lip-service.


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