A Pivotal Summer in Afghanistan and Pakistan
While NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan have taken control of—and stabilized—numerous regions previously held by the Taliban, many Taliban and al Qaeda sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan remain largely intact. The battle for control of Pakistan has intensified following the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Given that insurgent activity historically heats up during the summer months, U.S. officials should soon have a better sense of how much the enemy has been weakened by bin Laden’s death and years of military action in Afghanistan. With troop drawdowns in Afghanistan scheduled to begin as early as next month, this is a useful time to take stock of the mission in Afghanistan and the political landscape in Pakistan.
On June 16, the Brookings Institution hosted a discussion on the most critical issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Panelists include Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon, recently back from a research trip to Afghanistan, and author of “Toward a Political Strategy in Afghanistan” and Toughing it Out in Afghanistan (Brookings, 2010); and Brookings Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and author of Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of Global Jihad (Brookings, 2011). Martha Raddatz, senior foreign affairs correspondent for ABC News, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.
After the program, panelists took audience questions.
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[The duplicity of Pakistan's intelligence services was] baked into the stock price of U.S.-Pakistan relations. They were at times minimally responsive, but we always hit a wall. The outstanding list of Al Qaeda-affiliated figures [still operating in Pakistan] is small. But the Haqqani list is moving in the other direction.
Pakistan, America, and extremism: The path ahead
What do you do when your allies [like Pakistan] are part of the problem? The desire to turn our backs on these people is there, but then you worry that terrorists will have more operational freedom and it will cost you more in the long run.