Pakistan and the United States have had a wild ride over the years — three marriages and two divorces. Events since the start of the year suggest that we may be headed for a third divorce.
The recent announcement that the United States is suspending about one-third of its military assistance is understandable at one level — but both the United States and Pakistan still need each other, and this is not the way to avoid a breakup.
Since January, the two governments have been trying to renegotiate their “rules of engagement,” the basic ground rules for how the two countries, and especially their intelligence services, deal with one another.
Pakistan’s policy is driven by the army’s anger at the humiliations it has suffered from the United States. As seen from Pakistan, there have been several, but the most important was the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The team of U.S. SEALs got into Abbottabad, within a mile of the Pakistani equivalent of West Point, picked up and killed its “high-value target,” and left without Pakistan’s knowing what was up, let alone being asked in advance.
[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.