Campaign 2012: Afghanistan and Pakistan Policy
The winner of this year’s presidential election will face major policy decisions on a wide range of issues. One of them is how to craft a foreign policy strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, two countries beset by development, governance, and security challenges as well as a tense relationship with each other. The increasing political influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the continued existence of al-Qaeda sanctuaries in volatile border areas, and Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities pose an international security threat that extends beyond south Asia.
On February 15, the Campaign 2012 project at Brookings held a public discussion on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the second in a series of forums that will identify and address the 12 most critical issues facing the next president. Charles Hoskinson of POLITICO moderated a panel discussion with Brookings Senior Fellows Michael O’Hanlon, Bruce Riedel, Vanda Felbab-Brown, and Elizabeth Ferris.
After the program, panelists took questions from the audience.
Download papers from the event:
- Maximizing Chances for Success in Afghanistan and Pakistan, by Michael E. O’Hanlon and Bruce Riedel
- The Afghanistan Challenge: A Government that Serves the Afghan People, by Vanda Felbab-Brown
- The Afghanistan–Pakistan Challenge: Meeting Humanitarian Needs, by Elizabeth Ferris
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It will take more than cosmetic steps by Pakistan to get the Trump administration to unfreeze security assistance [to Pakistan]. Washington is looking for serious and sustained efforts against the Haqqanis [Haqqani Network], and active measures to incentivize the Taliban to engage in peace talks. I also suspect that any resumption of security assistance would be phased, focusing first on restoring military exchanges and narrowly-targeted counterterrorism assistance programs.
If the Indian establishment is willing to move forward with politically tricky but operationally meaningful agreements [such as the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement signed by India and the United States on Thursday], I take that as a good sign.
This suspension [of U.S. military aid] will no doubt put pressure on Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves, but I am skeptical that cutting a few hundred million dollars in assistance will induce Pakistan to make significant changes to its security policy. Today’s announcement sends a signal about the U.S. administration’s intent to hold Pakistan to account in the public domain. Whether it accomplishes more than that is yet to be seen.