Rethinking the Pakistan Plan

U.S.-Pakistani relations are in crisis. Strategic fear of India prevents Pakistan from bending to U.S. demands. Easing India-Pakistan tensions could change the dynamics of the U.S.-Pakistan alliance.

Issue: Jan-Feb 2012

THE QUEST for improvement in the deeply troubled relationship between the United States (along with its Western allies) and Pakistan focuses largely on Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and on the country’s approach to governing. But this quest has not yielded much, and relations between Washington and Islamabad are spiraling downward. Lost in this American struggle to induce change in Pakistani behavior is a fundamental reality—namely, that there probably can’t be any significant progress in improving the relationship so long as the India-Pakistan conflict persists. For Pakistanis, that conflict poses an ominous existential challenge that inevitably drives their behavior on all things, including their approach to the West and the war in Afghanistan.

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