What then should Washington do? Firstly—unless, once again, there was a secret deal with the Pakistani military over Bin Laden—military assistance to Pakistan should be reduced as a sign of acute displeasure. Secondly, to try to ward off rivalry with China over Pakistan, the United States needs to begin intensive talks with Beijing on the subject of Pakistan, on the same level and with the same seriousness as those concerning North Korea.
In these talks, the U.S. side should stress that the U.S. and China share strong interests in maintaining Pakistan as a successful state, but among those interests are that Pakistan cooperate in preventing international terrorism—terrorism of which China itself is bound to be a victim in the long term, just as the United States eventually suffered from its appallingly misguided support for the Afghan Mujahedin and their Arab radical allies in the 1980s.
Finally, both Pakistan and China need to be told the following, very firmly indeed: A restrained U.S. response to the location of Bin Laden and the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008 has only been possible because no successful terrorist attack based from Pakistan has in fact yet struck the United States. Faisal Shehzad’s attempt in New York was—thank God—amateurish to the point of clownishness. If after what has now been revealed about Bin Laden’s location, the United States does suffer a major Pakistan-based attack, then all the political and moral constraints on U.S. retaliation against Pakistan which I outlined above will fly out of the window. No matter what the risks involved, Pakistan will have to be treated as an open enemy, and punished very severely indeed. So it is not for our sake that the Pakistani military should help to track down the remaining al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan and prevent terrorist plots against the West. It is very much for their own.