Sunday 14 Aug 2022 | 15:43 | SYDNEY
Sunday 14 Aug 2022 | 15:43 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Pakistan and long US memories

9 December 2011 13:39

Peter Layton writes:

Alicia Molaun has provided some keen insights into Pakistan and the view from Islamabad looking outwards, especially towards Washington. Certainly Alicia is correct that Washington needs a Pakistan that supports a positive end to the Western intervention in Afghanistan. Indeed Washington and the rest of the world have needed a supportive Pakistan for the last ten years, but there are many who consider that the gradual worsening of the Afghanistan situation over that time owes much to a less than helpful Pakistan.

Looking forward across this decade it would seem likely that, if the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates further, then Pakistan will be perceived by many external observers as heavily implicated, if not responsible. Certainly, President Karzai even now seems to be making the case that many problems in Afghanistan emanate from Pakistan, suggesting that blame for failure should be at least partly shared with Islamabad.

Pakistanis may think that unfair, but others will make up their own minds and act on their understandings.

Pakistan may think it has the whip hand now but official Washington has long memories. The US remains Pakistan's largest export market and key to Pakistan being a part of the world and integrated in the world economy. If the Americans at some time in the future come to believe that aiding Pakistan is not in their best interests then the conditions are, as Alicia points out, ripe for a rapid movement to Pakistan being harshly treated by Washington in economic, diplomatic and foreign aid terms. Pakistan seems to have been playing a clever short-term game but over the longer term there must be some worries. Cuba, Iran and North Korea also tweak Washington's nose — but are these countries better or worse off for it, long-term?

Could Alicia give us insights into where Islamabad thinks its policies and grand strategies will take Pakistan over the next ten years? Do Pakistani policymakers seek just a return to the status quo ante, a 1999 redux, or some more positive future?