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HomeGeopolitical CompassSouth & Southeast AsiaGet the Generals Out of Pakistani-U.S. Relations

Get the Generals Out of Pakistani-U.S. Relations

Author: Adam Weinstein

Affiliation: Quincy Institute

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Policy

Date/Place: September 30, 2021 /Washington, USA

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 1700


Keywords: Pakistan, US, Pentagon, Spy Agencies, Pakistan Military, Imran Khan, Afghanistan, Taliban, Kashmir, India


The Taliban, who have been referred to as a rag-tag militia, regaining control of Afghanistan after ending a 20-years-long foreign illegal occupation of its country, have brought Pakistan back into the limelight on its role in the current scenario in the war-torn country. The US’ withdrawal was humiliating for the world’s super power, and at the same time it ran out of options but to get along with Islamabad for a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan, which again fell because the American-installed regime fled the country leaving the stage for a bloodless takeover of Kabul by the Taliban. It has triggered noises for sanctioning Pakistan because “it backs Taliban – the winner of the US’ longest war.” The world’s largest coalition of militaries failed to do what Pakistan is credited to have done – it helped a rag-tag militia win over the giant, muscular, and the world’s top trained special forces. With this background, the analyst emphasizes that the US-Pakistan relations need to decouple from military ties between the two countries. Islamabad has historically been an ally of the West, and after denounced General (retired) Parvez Musharraf decided to join the so-called War on Terror, Pakistan’s status was raised to “major non-NATO ally” by Washington. The folly of Pakistan’s decision came very soon when the US signed a strategic partnership alliance with India. The author argues that the spiraling down of the US-Pakistan relationship is because of the “prevailing assumption that their differences can only be managed through coercive engagement, money thrown at the problem, or disengagement.” He blames this on the “larger role” of the two countries security establishments in managing the bilateral relations. He points out that US-Pakistan relations grew mostly when Islamabad was ruled by military dictators rather than when the world’s second largest Muslim country was run by civilian governments. The author also warns against using “maximum pressure” or “do more” strategies on Pakistan, saying they had failed when used against Iran. “Competing objectives and differing accounts of the last four decades have stacked the odds against Islamabad,” the author notes, noting that the way to normalize the bilateral relations “will be with a shift toward civilian-led diplomatic outreach.”

By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-resident Research Associate



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