Our Frenemy Pakistan
Former national-security advisers counsel patience with our wayward ally.


Meanwhile, Bud McFarlane, national-security adviser to Reagan from 1983 to 1985, suggests we remind Pakistan that it needs us as much as we need it. Although Pakistan possesses a large English-speaking population and the Indus River, it lacks other natural resources, such as oil and gas. Furthermore, because of its conflict with India, particularly over the Kashmir region, 70 percent of its budget goes to military spending and debt service. If the U.S. helped Pakistan “relieve those problems . . . [it] could allow Pakistanis to generate enough disposable income to lift themselves out of poverty, build better roads,” etc.

To foster greater cooperation, Scowcroft adds, the U.S. should do more “to give Pakistanis a sense of confidence” in us, such as by providing trade assistance. “Textiles, for example, are a huge Pakistani export, and we have very high tariffs on those textiles,” he says. “We have to be the more mature party in this, because the Pakistanis are in a difficult region.”

For his part, Hadley believes we should place conditions on our aid — with different conditions on different forms of aid. For economic aid, we should place transparency conditions; we should insist the aid “gets to the people who need it . . . and it’s not being siphoned away by corruption.” Military aid, however, should be conditioned on cooperation in addressing security threats.

And we should “test” our relationship. “We need to work with them, for example, on a strategy for how to reach out to the Taliban for those elements who want to come out of insurgency,” Hadley says. “Then we should tell them, ‘Now, produce these guys.’”

“But I don’t think there’s an alternative to trying to deal with Pakistan,” Hadley concludes. “It’s like a marriage that has deep problems in it. But there’s no possibility for divorce.”

— Brian Bolduc is an editorial associate for National Review


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