In a diplomatic cable sent September 23, 2009, Ambassador Patterson assessed U.S. policy regarding Pakistan. What he said, simply put, was not butterflies and rainbows. “There is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced [U.S.] assistance levels in an field as sufficient compensation for abandoning support to [terrorist and extremist groups]. This cable was released as part of the Wikileaks stacks and it gave new light to the United States’ continuing struggles with this nation.
Fast forward two and a half years, and the situation hasn’t improved markedly. As an ally of the United States, Pakistan continues to try to retain amiable relations, but is thwarted in this as it must continue to fund terrorist groups that remain an offensive barrier against India, its sworn enemy. Currently, relations with the former are dwindling. As Patterson states, they are not motivated by U.S. assistance and while the Bin Laden attacks may have been Obama’s trump card, it has not enhanced diplomacy between Pakistan and the U.S. This and other incidents, such as November’s friendly fire occurrence that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead is being hailed as a “[violation] of all mutually agreed procedures”.
|A faster route to Afghanistan cuts right through|
So why do we stay? Two reasons. Number one: terrorism. Despite their support of numerous terrorist organizations, Pakistan still helps the U.S.’ war on terror. Ordinarily, this hesitant show of “good faith” would be negligible, but the numbers stand. Out of all the Middle Eastern countries, Pakistan has been useful in bringing the single largest amount of terrorists down. Why would they do this when they fund a lot of these terrorists in the first place? Rule number one of Pakistan: everything is a contradiction. That question isn’t for this article. Secondly: money. As the United States has been actively invested in Afghanistan, it has been forced to ship countless supplies and soldiers to the country. Having Pakistan as an ally allows us to fly directly into Afghanistan. Halting relations with them, however, would force the United States to detour hundreds of miles to the east in order to avoid treading upon Iranian airspace.
But do these things really still matter? This Tuesday, President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to negotiate the end of the United States’ military occupation by 2014. This agreement, finalized with Afghan president Hamid Karzai, still arranges, for continuing United States assistance for an additional decade. With this in mind, one positive aspect of the continuing struggle for beneficial relations with Pakistan is dropped. With no more need of their airspace, we can look to the terrorist issue. As President Obama’s visit coincided with the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s assassination, it hails back to the primal fear of the U.S.: al Qaeda. Since his assassination, bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has failed to move the organization in a meaningful direction and the factions have split into local regions and while operations in Yemen and North Africa are still powerful, those in Pakistan and Afghanistan are negligible.
|Obama meets with Karzai, establishing terms of the end of|
U.S. military occupation
It is never in our best interest to abandon an ally in such a turbulent region, but considering all the friction that exists so far, a peaceful separation shouldn’t cause any further damage. It will help with foreign relations, with our economy and we have nothing to lose, because truly when you have friends like Pakistan, who needs enemies?