Does it make sense for the Trump administration and Congress to try to bludgeon Pakistan into doing Washington’s bidding? What about the ultimate sanction of labelling 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 or 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 Afghan Taliban, which has taken the lives of US soldiers while taking aim at the government in Kabul. The second is harbouring anti-India groups that carry out violent acts against targets in India and Afghanistan. The third is the pace and scope of its nuclear weapon-related programs, characterised by a former senior official at the National Security Council staff and the Pentagon 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 while US ties have shifted markedly toward India. Pakistan’s economic growth has underperformed its natural potential, and foreign direct investment (with the exception of China) has dwindled. Pakistan’s relations with neighbouring states have deteriorated, and its diplomacy has been shackled by talking points that lost persuasiveness many years ago.
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Michael Krepon is Co-Founder of the Stimson Center. This piece originally ran in the Dawn Herald on March 11, 2017.