Stephen Cohen joined Geo Television to discuss U.S.-Pakistan relations in terms of cooperation against terrorism, the possible difficulties for transition of power after Musharraf, and Pakistan-India relations regarding nuclear energy as well as other regional issues.
Moeed Pirzada, host: On behalf of Geo Television, and all of you, our worldwide viewership, I welcome Stephen P. Cohen to this exclusive discussion.
Stephen Cohen: It is a pleasure being back in Pakistan. It has been two years since I have last been here. I have come primarily to learn, to meet people, to meet old friends and make new friends. I want to go back to America with some fresh ideas about Pakistan.
Pirzada: Given your publications, your writings, your testimonies in front of the Senate, there is so much to talk of this triangular relationship between India, Pakistan and the United States. I am very tempted, given the newsy nature of the developments that are taking shape – an unprecedented move by the Pakistan’s elected coalition partners to impeach President Musharraf, that has been the lynchpin, the central figure, in the U.S. war against terrorism for the last 6 years. I wonder how you, the policy thinker, look at this.
Cohen: Well, I happen to know all three of them – not well, but I know them. I think it’s wrong to say that the U.S. still supports Musharraf the way we used to support him. I think until Benazir came to the U.S. on her last trip, our policy was Musharraf centered. I think by that time, the U.S. government learned that there is more to Pakistan than President Musharraf. There has been great disappointment in Pakistan’s performance in the so called war on terrorism. Especially Pakistan’s alleged support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. So I think the decision was made to broaden our contacts with Pakistan.
[The U.S. seeks] to portray Iran as a criminal enterprise, not just as another bad country but as a rogue state that is engaged in horrible crimes across the region.... We are moving from a position of accommodation to one of confrontation across multiple fronts.
There’s a very strong tendency in U.S. foreign policy to acknowledge and to congratulate for holding elections, even when those elections take place in a pretty unfair context.