I. Introduction

Since the attacks of September 11th, 2001, the U.S. has renewed its relationship with Pakistan, working closely with the country to root out perceived national security threats. However, while a Pew study suggests that the majority of Pakistanis agree with the U.S. on issues like the viability of a Pakistani democracy and the need to quell suicide attacks, Pakistani support for its renewed American relationship has been low (pewglobal.org). Understanding the causes of these discontinuities in interest and conflicts in views demonstrates that America needs to act skeptically, think innovatively, remember the costs of policies and deflate its policy, and, all the while, avoid international abandonment.

II. Pakistan - An Overview

A. Origins and demographics

Pakistan was created in 1947 as a Muslim split-off of British India (www.cia.gov). Since its creation it has been engaged in three major wars with India over territories and ethnic conflicts, leading to the creation of Pakistan’s nuclear program (www.cia.gov). Coupled with and related to its bloody history, Pakistan has spent 38 of its 62 years of existence as a military dictatorship; despite its democratic structure, most its history under military dictatorship was conducted under the guise of attempts at democratic creation (Innocent, 16; Nawaz, Crossed Swords 171, 172).

Pakistan’s culture is a patchwork of various ethnic and tribal groups, but the majority of Pakistanis are Punjabi, and the Punjab province also happens to be the most wealthy and prosperous in the nation (Kiener, 334). The next largest ethnic groups in Pakistan are the “Pashtuns, Sindhis, Saraikis, Muhajirs (Muslim migrants from India) and the Balochs” (334). Pakistan’s religious composition is 95% Muslim with a government that is intended to be a mixture between a secular and an Islamic democracy (334).

B. India-Pakistan conflict

The conflict between India and Pakistan is crucial for two main reasons. First, without the rivalry Pakistan would not have pursued and gained nuclear capabilities, and secondly, both countries have used the American connection for leverage against the other.

India and Pakistan have shared a long, bloody history since their creation, and this rivalry still plays an important role in American foreign policy decisions regarding Pakistan. Although India has held rough relations with Pakistan since the beginning, the first highly relevant India-Pakistan conflict considerations emerged during the Afghan-Soviet conflict in the 1980’s. While defending against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the US employed Pakistan to aid the process, and Pakistan openly welcomed the partnership in order to buffer itself from Indian threats (Grare, 4568). During the Soviet-Afghan conflict the US and Saudi Arabia employed Pakistan to help recruit and train Taliban fighters, but following the conflict the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, decided to utilize its newly acquired resources toward its conflict over Kashmir with India (Innocent, 6).

However, after the fall of Soviet Russia the U.S. abandoned its alliance with Pakistan in favor of an alliance with India, a partnership more critical to the containment of China (Grare, 4568). The tensions between India and Pakistan even indirectly helped legitimize the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan; in return for aiding and recognizing the Taliban, the ISI was permitted to stage large numbers of training facilities throughout Afghanistan for its fight against India and the Kashmir conflict (Innocent, 6). In fact, Pakistan was “one of three countries to formally recognize the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan” (Atal, 6). It was during that 1999 conflict over Kashmir that Pakistan considered exercising “the nuclear option” and even hinted at rearming its warheads during the 2002 conflict (3).

Following the 9/11 attacks and America’s renewed engagement with South Asia India announced its allegiance to the U.S. in the war on terror, a move that placed pressure on Pakistan to submit to American needs or risk further destruction of its relationship with America (Grare, 4568). It is fair to guess that if Pakistan had refused cooperation with American forces, Pakistan would have suffered invasion.

More recently, the conflict between India and Pakistan took another twist following the September 20, 2008 bombing of the Islamabad Marriot Hotel. Pakistani officials have accused India’s Research and Analysis Wing, the Indian intelligence agency, of using connections in Afghanistan to smuggle weapons to Balochistan separatists (Innocent, 13). Some Pakistani officials even went so far as to accuse RAW of playing a part in the September 20th bombing (13).

The India issue is also strikingly important because it has caused a severe conflict of interests for Pakistan. Specialists suggest that if Pakistan were to reorient its forces to accommodate American anti-terrorist measures it would compromise the ability for Pakistan to resist Indian forces (Innocent, 15).

Another concern amongst analysts is the misdirection of American military aid to the Kashmir front. Examples exist of Pakistan’s attempt to gain weapons from the U.S. for the purpose of the Indian conflict. At one point Pakistan attempted to acquire F-16’s and Sidewinder missiles from the U.S., however these are weapons that have no direct anti-terrorist function (Innocent, 16). In the most extreme example of this attempted abuse Pakistan made a move to gain naval equipment, something that would serve absolutely no function for terrorist conflicts (16).

C. Nuclear program

1. Beginnings and rationale

Considered the only Muslim nation worldwide to have nuclear capabilities, Pakistan tested its first nuclear weapon in 1998, and now has an estimated 50-120 nuclear warheads (Kiener, 332). According to a policy report by Subodh Atal, “the deterioration of the [nuclear] situation in Pakistan was initially due to the Clinton administration’s lack of action between 1996 and 2000” (7). However, other texts state that Pakistan developed nuclear capabilities as a realist counterbalance to India’s superior military power (Innocent, 17). In fact, Pakistan has considered the India threat so real that Pakistan allegedly armed its nuclear missiles in 1999 in preparation for an Indian strike in the Kashmir conflict, and considered arming their missiles again in 2002 (Atal, 3).

However, it is true that US policy during the 1990’s did not adequately engage the Pakistani government. Under the Pressler Amendment of 1985, the US placed sanctions on Pakistan beginning in 1990 (Innocent, 5). The Pressler Amendment was a Reagan era piece of legislation requiring that without the president’s verification that Pakistan was not pursuing a nuclear program no American military technology or equipment could be sent to Pakistan (5).

Pakistan’s nuclear policy is directly related to its relationship with India. Pakistan has four scenarios in which the nuclear option will be considered viable. The first policy is called the space threshold, in which the nuclear option becomes viable if India conquers a significant portion of Pakistani territory (Innocent, 18). The second circumstance under which the nuclear option is alive is in the case of an Indian-led destruction of Pakistani land or air forces; this option is referred to as the military threshold (18). The economic strangulation option is exactly as it sounds, nuclear use becomes a legitimate option if India strangles Pakistan’s economy, and fourth circumstance of legitimate use is referred to as the domestic destabilization option (18). If India were to cause “political destabilization or…a large-scale internal subversion in Pakistan” the domestic destabilization option would be live (18).

The truth is that most of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities are simply attempts to counterbalance India’s political, military, and economic strength. According to Dr. Peter Lavoy of the Center for Contemporary Conflicts, Pakistan defense officials fear a situation in which their traditional military strength would deteriorate to a level leaving them with fewer alternatives to the nuclear option (17).

2. A "rogue" nuclear program

Pakistan’s nuclear program has a unique history that has set a new course for nuclear proliferation in rogue or estranged states. Nuclear scientist Dr. AQ Khan is the individual credited with, as a Global Researcher article calls it, “masterminding and running a global, black-market operation trading in nuclear weapon-making materials” (Kiener, 332). Khan’s genius in masterminding the nuclear black market is directly related to the unique group of partners and interests that accompany his presence; these relationships are credited with helping Pakistan avoid the traditional protocol that accompanies nuclear production (Nawaz, Crossed Swords, 551). Interestingly, Khan is neither a religious extremist nor a mad scientist; instead Khan is a Pakistani nationalist (Innocent 18).

It is Dr. AQ Khan’s international network that is credited with equipping North Korea with nuclear capabilities since possibly 1997 although both former President Bhutto and former General Karamat both deny that “Pakistan traded nuclear secrets for weapons from North Korea” (Atal, 6; Nawaz, Crossed Swords, 490). In fact, some of this technology is reported to have been acquired from North Korea and China (490). Furthermore, it was reported that Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and other high priority members of bin Laden’s organizations met with six Pakistani nuclear scientists where they discussed the nuclear possibilities of al Qaeda and the Taliban (Atal, 5). Fortunately, the scientists claimed that they left without making any agreements (5).

3. Competency

Pakistan’s nuclear program, however, is not as fragile as some may suggest; in fact, Pakistan has taken many steps to ensure the safety and stability of its nuclear program. For example, a National Command Authority was established in February of 2000 to provide internal safeguards for Pakistan’s nuclear systems (Atal, 3). Since the 9/11 attacks and America’s increased involvement with Pakistan, the US has become increasingly involved in Pakistan’s nuclear program. Shortly after the events of September 11, Pakistan entered into a secret, $100 million security upgrade with the US (Kiener, 333). Although “none of the Pakistani nuclear materials is under International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards,” the increased US involvement has helped draw the Pakistani nuclear programs into the regulated nuclear order (Atal, 3). Also following the 9/11 attacks the Pakistani government agreed to a deal with the US, one of the requirements of which was that Pakistan oust any religious extremists from its nuclear programs (Innocent, 6). Currently neither Pakistan nor India has signed on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, although Pakistan does hold an observer status in regards to the latter organization (Nawaz, Crossed Swords, 490).

D. Afghan-Paki Border/FATA

1. The problematic Durand Line

In 1983, with the help of Brit Sir Henry Mortimer Duran and Afghan Amir Abdul Rahman Kahn, the Durand Line was created, creating the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan (Innocent, 3). Even at its inception the line was porous and arbitrary, leading former British head of chancery in Kabul, Sir Martin Ewans to say, “Tribes, sometimes even villages, were divided” (3). The boundary’s porous nature can be attributed to a few features that were overlooked at its creation, namely the FATA mountains and the ethnic and tribal cultures inhabiting the border.


The Federally Administered Tribal Area, commonly referred to as FATA, “is strategically located between the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and the settled areas of NWFP” (North-West Frontier Province) (fata.gov.pk). The FATA area is roughly the size of Massachusetts and bears many monikers including “Talibanistan” and “Yaghistan” meaning “Land of Rebels” (Innocent 4,6,7; Kiener 338). Due to the rugged terrain, modern, automotive travel is difficult, making the use of “foot traffic and pack animals” feasible, while not being conducive to infiltration or military reconnaissance (Innocent 7). Also in the FATA is the Khyber Pass, an area crucial to the support network of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, with 75% of its supplies funneled through the pass (2). This mountainous area has become the bane of American activity because of its uniquely rugged landscape and its high concentration of Pashtun tribes.
Nearly 3 million Pashtuns inhabit the FATA, and their culture tends to be accepting of members of the Taliban because of their adherence to Pashtunwali, a “pre-Isalmic tribal code” “which by custom extends assistance to strangers who request protection” (Innocent 6,7). Pashtunwali was originally “intended to protect the weakest members within the tribe” but for those who cause war, they are, traditionally, not to be harbored (Nawaz, FATA, 25).

However, this tribal code has been abused to cover for “tribal entrepreneurs” looking to make some money from harboring insurgents who come equipped with fresh Arab money (23). During the Soviet conflict nearly 3 million Afghans crossed the nebulous Afghanistan-Pakistan border into the FATA (Kiener, 337,338). Currently approximately 3.5 million Pashtuns and 1.5 million Afghan refugees inhabit the FATA (Nawaz, FATA, 1). Pashtuns are currently the second largest ethnicity in Pakistan, consisting of about 25.4 million people and are Afghanistan’s “largest ethnic group, about 13.5 million of the country’s 31 million people” (Kiener, 334; Innocent, 4). Many of these refugees stayed in the FATA, including members of the Taliban and al Qaeda (Kiener, 337, 338). For various reasons these Pashtun tribespeople tend to be sympathetic or open to members of the Taliban and al Qaeda, most of the reasons closely related to ethno-political reasons.

3. Border Violence

Militant caused violence has become all too common in the FATA and NWFP areas. The Pakistan government rules these tribal areas like the Wild West: hands off, allowing the tribes to exercise high amounts of autonomy. A political agent accountable to the NWFP governor is appointed to each of the seven Pakistani tribal agencies (Innocent, 7, 8). These maliks, who vary in number from agency to agency, are paid by the political agents (Nawaz, FATA, 6). In less chaotic times it has been the maliks (tribal leaders) who held jirga’s (meetings) to set policy with other tribes and with the administrators, but the violent militant activity has interrupted this tradition, threatening its continued use in the future (Innocent 7,8). Recently, over 150 mutilated bodies have been discovered in the area, all them being identified as maliks and elders friendly to the Pakistani government \ and a running total of assassinated maliks has counted at least 600 dead in the FATA (Innocent 7,8; Nawaz, FATA, 7). Most of these assassinations are committed by insurgents believing the maliks to be spies from the government or the U.S., but despite these threats the maliks refuse to accept offers of government protection because it is not condoned by “tribal honor” (26).

4. Taliban influence

Because these areas are poorly protected, Taliban militants and other terrorist organizations are able to penetrate these areas by offering utopian Islamic states in exchange for “poverty, poor education, and extremist sentiment”, all of which are things “with whom the government has never competed” (Innocent, 8). A reported 157 training camps and 400 support locations for various terrorist groups inhabit the FATA and North-West Frontier Province regions (Innocent, 8, 9). Between November 2007 and December 2008 the Taliban presence in Afghanistan was reported to have increased from 58 percent to 72 percent of the country (Bruno, 2).

Also furthering the spread of the Taliban is the political structure of the FATA government. Not only does FATA have very little political representation on the federal level due to various normative and legislative reasons, but political parties are also not allowed to operate inside the territories (Nawaz, FATA, 8). Religious groups are able to capitalize on this political vacuum by affiliating with political parties and spreading their message through Friday prayers (9). Over the last two decades the traditional structure of the FATA has shifted and the power of the maliks has been usurped or severely challenged by the mullahs (tribal religious leaders) who were funded by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. during the 1980’s (14). Traditionally, the mullahs were paid by the maliks, but this new funding freed them from the traditional tribal structure, allowing them to speak in more radical political and religious tones, eventually gaining militias that frequently attack “military and police installations” (14,15). However, these developments are not too surprising considering that many fond memories of the Afghan Taliban linger in the NWFP because of its ability to bring “stability and traditional Pashtun values to Afghanistan after years of civil war” (18). Some signs indicate that the Taliban is beginning to break up as evidenced by interorganizational disputes over leadership positions and objectives and skirmishes within the organization (Bruno, 4).

5. Pakistani governmental policy

The Pakistani government is not ignoring the FATA region; it has adopted a litany of policies. The Pakistan government has worked in facilitating tribal militias, known as lashkars, to repel militants in mostly the FATA and NWFP regions (Innocent, 12). These groups have been successful in the Lakki Marwat District located in the NWFP and the Char Dewal and Jalmai villages in the Kurram Agency in FATA; however in other areas such as the crucial Khyber region and Waziristan to name a few, the lashkars have been futile because of the already dominant presence of the Taliban (12). Some sources suggest that these successes are minor and any major progress with the lashkars will require military support (Kiener, 339).

Other structural problems face the Frontier Corps, most of them ethnic. Because most Frontier Corps soldiers are Pashtun, they are forced to fight an enemy that has a high Pashtun concentration (Innocent, 12). These problems could lead to motivational and morale problems due to strong ethnic ties; in an attempt to avoid ethnic loyalties some soldiers are not allowed to fight in their local villages (12).

Similarly, the Pakistani government has created the Frontier Corps, troops trained in counterinsurgency tactics (Innocent, 12). Currently there are approximately 80,000 Frontier Corpsmen stationed in Balochistan and approximately a combined 50,000 soldiers are stationed in NWFP and FATA (12) with an additional 80,000 to 120,000 soldiers in FATA and approximately 20,000 soldiers in the Swat Valley of NWFP (10). However, these Pakistani soldiers have suffered significant losses with more than 1000 Pakistani soldiers killed in combat (10). The presence of these troops has also significantly compromised the legitimacy and power of the political agents in the FATA because, among other reasons, these Frontier Corps troops are “a federal parliamentary force” (Nawaz, FATA, 9). Dating back to 2001, the U.S. has provided Pakistan with at least $10 billion to compensate for the numerous costs of the Frontier Corps, providing monetary incentives for Pakistani led action (12).

6. US buildup

To further increase American presence and militant monitoring in the region, the US has commissioned the construction of six “joint US-Afghanistan-Pakistan military intelligence centers” to be opened in the border regions (Innocent, 12). However, as usual, major problems have arisen with this plan. Only one year after the construction of its first center, opened in March 2008, officials report that the Khyber base is experiencing “problems of language barriers, ongoing border disputes between Pakistani and Afghan field officers, and mistrust among all three militaries” (12). The construction of the second center has been postponed from its original date because of the increased violence in the region (12).

Current statistics report that 1000 Pakistani border posts exists along the Durand Line, but Pakistan claims that only 84 posts exist on the Afghan side, the point being that Pakistan bears a disproportionate share of the border burden (Nawaz, FATA, 12). However, these posts are isolated and small, so they can easily be bribed or manipulated when under duress from militants (17).

E. Terrorism & Extremism

The history of terrorism in Pakistan and South Asia is perhaps the most complicated aspect of American foreign policy regarding Pakistan, mostly because of its complicated history in the region and the reemergence and reshaping of old interests and policies. The history of American policy in the region is crucial in understanding the present political landscape in the region, and to some degree, worldwide.

1. The Afghan War

Most relevant American policy in South Asia, particularly Afghanistan and Pakistan, originated from the Afghan war, the conflict in which the US utilized local “freedom fighters” to repel and contain the Soviet threat. The spread of Islamic schools, called madaris, was facilitated by the United States and Saudi Arabian governments during the years of the Afghan war (Innocent, 5). These schools teach a radical form of Islam considered to be anti-Western and pro-violence, spreading a mutilated version of jihad used to justify acts of terrorism in defense of various interests including anti-Western and anti-Indian sentiments (Stern, 119). In the 1980’s the Pakistani government also used the Islamic tithe known as the zakat to supplement funding to these schools, but recently these schools have received most of their funding from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and “wealthy Pakistani industrialists” (119). According to Pakistan’s estimations, approximately 10 to 15 percent of these madaris teach radical jihadist views, and for a region littered with thousands of madaris, this 10 to 15 percent constitutes a large quantity of schools (119).

These schools are viable options for most Pakistani families who not only desire religious benefits but also cannot afford education or maintain a decent standard of living; the madaris provide free “food, housing…clothing” and education, and, according to some accounts, some Sunni madaris monetarily compensate parents for enrolling their children (Stern, 118). But the functions performed for the families are not the only benefits gained from the madaris; the Pakistani government utilizes the steady supply of extremists provided by these schools to wage its conflicts with India (116). These schools essentially supply a steady stream of motivated, low cost, expendable bodies for the conflict with India, most notably the Kashmir conflict (116). Especially in the FATA where the literacy ratio is less than half that of the rest of Pakistan and where the patient to doctor ratio is almost seven times that of elsewhere in the country, these schools are an extremely valuable option for families in difficult economic situations (Nawaz, FATA, 8).

During this Soviet era the US employed Afghan and Pakistani militants to repel the Soviet invasion, most of these militants came from the more extreme sects of the mujahidin (Innocent, 4). These forces were funded and equipped through the Pakistani intelligence agency Intel-Services Intelligence (ISI) who was being funded by the CIA and Saudi Arabia (4). Most of these militants, known as the mujahidin, were sent to these madaris which were incidentally resourced through CIA and Saudi coffers (5). After the fall of the Afghan communist government in the early 1990’s civil war broke out between two rival factions, the winners of this war was the Sunni Pashtuns who later became known as the Taliban (6).

2. Formation of the Afghani Taliban

For the next decade Pakistan and the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan garnered a friendly relationship. Pakistan needed easy resources for its conflict with India and the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan needed legitimacy from its neighbors; as a result Pakistan joined Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in recognizing the new Afghan government while also providing intelligence assistance (Bruno 4). In return Afghanistan allowed the Pakistan to operate training camps for its anti-Indian forces (Innocent, 6). During this time, American officials allowed relations with South Asian countries to slip, closing its embassy in Kabul in 1988, placing sanctions on Pakistan, and failing to avert Saudi and Pakistani aid to Afghanistan (6).
Today the Taliban still holds legitimate governmental power in certain areas, despite their overthrow in Afghanistan, with their presence highly concentrated in southern Pakistani provinces namely, Helmand, Kandahar, Zabol, and Oruzagan, and in the eastern provinces (Paktika,Khowst, Nangarhar, Knoar, Nuristan) Taliban activity remains high (Innocent, 7).

In many cases the Taliban has “usurped the traditional functions of a sovereign state, collecting taxes, enforcing order, and providing basic services”, and in western Pakistan, namely the Pashtun and Balochi areas, al Qaeda Taliban forces are practically untouchable (7). Furthering this usurpation of the Pakistani government, the Taliban has replaced Pakistani courts in the NWFP, using mosques as staging grounds for trials (10). In fact, Colonel Chris Vernon, the NATO chief of staff for southern Afghanistan, holds strong beliefs that the brains of the Afghan Taliban is located Quetta, capital of Balochistan, a Pakistani province (10). Presently, there are al-Qaeda groups in 68 reported countries (Dempsey, 3).

Many experts believe that despite Pakistan’s renewed partnership with the US, it still shares close ties with Taliban and al Qaeda operatives. Pakistan’s situation is complicated because of its reliance upon militants in its rivalry with India. Former president and military dictator Gen. Perez Musharraf was accused by American and NATO forces of targeting Deobandi and Shiite groups; these groups are not known for their allegiance to Pakistan’s conflict with India (Innocent, 11). Meanwhile, General Musharraf tended to tread lightly with the Taliban because they could better serve Pakistan’s needs, namely to hedge against the problems following an American withdrawal and also to hedge against Karzai’s Afghanistan who Pakistan believes favors India (11). Many officials even believe that the ISI provided Osama bin Laden with crucial information to evading US capture following the US invasion of Afghanistan (11).

3. Formation of the Pakistani Taliban

However, a sect of the Taliban devote to Pakistan has sprung up in recent years; known as Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan, the group, created by Baitulla Mehsud, is currently creating a FATA regional alliance with locals and Sunni extremists while also gaining connections with the Afghan Taliban (Nawaz, FATA, 7). Created in 2002, the group arose as a direct reaction to the military incursions of Pakistan’s anti-terrorist efforts (Bruno 5). This group, as is common with most religious extremist groups, is dedicated to the institution of an Islamic state predicated on rivaaj (tribal custom) and Islamic law (Nawaz, FATA, 7).

4. Pakistani military

The future of Pakistan’s military also presents a threat to American interests. The Congressional sanctions leveled against Pakistan during the 1990’s created a core of military leaders without any experience with Americans; not only do these leaders lack American connections, they demonstrate a heavy Islamic conservative leaning (Innocent, 14). Referred to as Zia Bharti, or Zia’s recruits, these soldiers were recruited by former Pakistani military dictator General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq who readily welcomed Islamic and conservative factions into the Afghan-Soviet conflict (14).

However, these ties are also hard to break for reasons conducive to American interests. The Pashtuns have often times been key links to crucial intelligence in areas that are hard to monitor; American officials are even willing to readily admit that Pakistan has been its most productive ally, producing more troops and prisoners than any other nation (Innocent, 11).
Currently, a penumbra of insurgency problems are facing U.S., Afghani, and Pakistani officials. First, the insurgents in the FATA are now well armed with better weapons and communications systems; second, the insurgents are highly mobile; third, and most alarmingly, the deterioration of the traditional tribal system coupled with an “bulge” of mostly unemployed youth has the real potential to present a ripe harvest for terrorist groups looking for new, passionate recruits (Nawaz, FATA, 20, 21).

III. Problematic US policies

A. Drone Policy

One highly controversial policy that remains as a remnant of the Bush administration is the drone attack policy which employs remote-controlled planes in attacks inside the Pakistan border. One of the greatest advantages of this policy is that it is purely unilateral, and theoretically seems be in accord with counterinsurgency strategies that require a light footprint (Innocent, 11,12). However, the drone policies have undermined the democratic strength of the Pakistani government, furthering the belief among Pakistani’s that their government is incapable of resisting American demands; this situation led President Zardari to state that “[the drone policy] is creating a credibility gap” (Kiener, 340). The drone attacks are also greatly aiding Taliban recruiting in the Tehreek-e-Taliba-e-Pakistan (TTP) (Nawaz, FATA, 18). In an interview Baitullah Mehsud, founder of the TTP said, “I spent three months trying to recruit and only got 10-15 persons. One U.S. [drone] attack and I got 150 volunteers!” (18).

B. American Aid

With renewed American interests in Pakistan have come large amounts of American aid. Since 9/11 the US has supported Pakistan with at least $20 billion in “economic assistance”; this aid comes from “four funding streams: coalition support funds, roughly 57% of US aid, considered reimbursement for logistic, military, and other expenses in support of US counterterrorism operations; direct budget support, approximately 15% of US aid, which are direct cash payments to the Pakistani government with little accountability; security assistance, roughly 18 percent of US aid, which allows Paksitan to purchase major weapons systems; and development aid, less than 10 percet of US aid, which goes toward education, democratic institutions, and civil society” (Innocent, 15). In the summer of 2008 the US Congress passed the Biden-Lugar Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2008, a piece of bipartisan legislation drafted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that guarantees Pakistan $1.5 billion dollars annually for the next five years in non-military aid (17). The act also promises Pakistan an extra $1.5 billion over the following years (17). While this aid has helped encourage Pakistani cooperation, especially after the country’s former experience with sanctions, there are a few flaws in the system.

The greatest problem with these aid packages is the infamous and rampant corruption in the Pakistani government (Innocent, 15). One of the most infamous examples of corruption within Pakistan’s government is a case from 2007 in which the US was covering a $55 million, eight-month service charge for the maintenance of Pakistani helicopters, however, following the payments, officials learned that after being filtered through the Pakistani government, the military received less than half of the paid amount (15).

In fact, the corruption does not stop at economic and military aid, it also extends to military objectives. Pakistan, while under Musharraf, had been reported to selectively target militant groups who were opposed to Pakistan’s rivalry with India, while avoiding many of the Taliban forces that could prove beneficial in the Kashmir struggle or in case of U.S. abandonment (Innocent, 11).

Many suggest that American aid should go towards investing in infrastructural cultural needs (Kiener, 340), however as Nawaz writes, “Patronage networks that are impenetrable to outsiders may continue to find subtle ways to cannel the aid to benefit particular clients” (FATA, 29). Essentially, US aid is not immune to Pakistani corruption despite its best efforts, and the aid could very easily (and quite probably) be used to promote economic and political interests that would only be obvious to the Pakistani people (29). Equally, this aid could quite easily find its way into the hands of radical maliks and mullahs that could then use the aid to sponsor insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan (29).

Another component in Pakistan’s corruption complex is the decentralization of Pakistani aid; due to the highly federalist nature of Pakistani government no single department is aware of the entire aid situation resulting in miscommunications and manipulations of aid (15). Pakistan currently claims that 30-38 percent of American aid going through the Office of Transition Initiatives, the department in charge of small American aid projects, actually makes its way to its intended use, but American officials the aid losses only total about 20-30 percent (21). In truth, American aid must be approached skeptically because of the complex nature of both Pakistani politics and, therefore, Pakistani corruption.

IV. Conclusions

A. Be cautious of Pakistan’s problems

If anything, America’s conflict with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Taliban has demonstrated that no situation is ever simple enough to assume complete predictability, and as a result, American policy makers must demonstrate an ability to tread lightly, leaving small footprints in the wake of major foreign policy decisions. Any political or policy decision has the potential to unexpectedly develop into major problems, and in an increasingly globalizing world where distances are shorter and actions can be easily maximized, the actions of a few seemingly insignificant discontents can become potently unavoidable. While the U.S. did not create the Taliban, the U.S. equipped these militants with the resources necessary to become legitimate political actors.

It is fair to conclude that American policy makers at the time did not foresee the future threat presented by the Taliban, but instead acted in a manner addressing their most immediate needs, the said needs being the containment of the Soviet Union. Instead of patiently pursuing long term goals and stability, policymakers utilized the most available means to combat questionable ends. Arguably, the U.S. could have avoided intervention in South Asia and allowed the Soviet Union to organically expire. If anything is historically clear it is that the countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan are untamable, and when left to their own devices, the pre-existing religious and cultural institutions in the region are viable and camouflaged enough to successfully resist any unwanted regime. As Innocent writes, “the only Afghan ruler able to secure the allegiance of warring tribes was Ahmed Shah Durrani, who died in 1772” (17). The geographic, cultural, and political climate of Afghanistan and Pakistan has perpetually proven itself to be unconquerable for centuries, and it seems that nothing other than America’s frenetic, anti-Soviet ideology led to the policy that substantially empowered and legitimated America’s next greatest, and questionably, most unbeatable enemy.

While America has made several successes, each time it deepens its engagement in the region it seems that new, unexpected, and unconquerable complications arise. The situation in Pakistan requires a delicate balancing of American foreign policy objectives and Pakistani stability, something that is seemingly fanciful and ineluctable given its myriad of interests that are often times contradictory. As a praxiological point, American policy analysts must understand that they cannot understand every conceivable parameter, and, as a result, they must act skeptically, rationally, and deliberately. No action is an island, and it seems that when policy decisions are sounded in Pakistan, the country acts as a loud speaker, maximizing every detail of that initial policy.

From this praxeological perspective most other lessons learned from American involvement in Pakistan follow.

B. Have an open mind – Traditional models don’t necessarily apply to terrorism

Yet another valuable lesson learned from the American experience in Pakistan is to keep an open mind when making policy decisions. Because terrorism does not represent typical nation-states and, similarly, is not constructed in that manner, decision makers must rethink traditional policies. Anti-terrorist policies, whether they are counterterrorism or counterinsurgency, still must meet a unique set of needs. Terrorism is decentralized and holds many cultural ties, and, as a result, policies that worked for large, professional armies do not work. Instead, American policies have to be innovative, finding ways to effectively combat things like anti-American sentiment and global revenue streams while still establishing a policy that will not further exasperate a problem.

Policies must be more rooted in cultural understanding and must also be communally oriented. Especially in the case of Pakistan, every action has a unique set of consequences that are completely unpredictable to a policy maker unaware of the incredibly complexity of Pakistani culture. If policy makers fail to engage Afghanistan and Pakistan in new and innovative ways, they will face the same problems faced by every other invader in history; the political, religious, and geographic climate will bleed invaders and occupiers dry.

C. Policy has costs

Perhaps the greatest lesson learned from Pakistan and Afghanistan is that American foreign policy is not cost free. As Stephen Walt writes, “on September 11…al Qaeda demonstrated that the cost of U.S. global engagement was larger than Americans thought” (59). Walt points out that the 1990’s was a time of increased American action in the international community, but the hubris that inspired these policies was entirely shortsighted because it ignored the impending American costs (58). This case can easily be made for Pakistan, a country who was abandoned by the U.S. in the 1990’s under the infamous Pressler Amendment. As a result of this most recent case of U.S. abandonment in Pakistan, Pakistani popular opinion holds an anti-American bent and the Pakistani military was forced to become allies of the Taliban and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

As realism would suggest, Pakistan is not evil; instead, its decisions and alliances that are contrary to American interests are a result of the circumstances and needs presented by Pakistan’s surroundings. While by no means should the U.S. have attempted to dictate Pakistani policy, it does seem that if the U.S. were to engage Pakistan from a more realist perspective in the 1990’s Pakistani popular opinion and military cooperation would be garnered much more easily, and perhaps the threat of terrorism in Pakistan would not be as severe.
If anything, Pakistani foreign policy has been a case study on realism. Everything from the development of Pakistan’s nuclear system to its alliance with the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan points to its rational action. While there are definite ideological stances taken by the Pakistani government and military, it seems to address the needs raised by these stances from a realist slant. For example, the rivalry with India is quite easily an ideological difference, but in order to address the needs caused by that rivalry, Pakistan engaged in actions that would effectively balance India power. Such actions include Pakistan’s relationship with China, its nuclear program, and the privatization of jihad in Kashmir.

All this is to say that in their attempt to remain ideologically “pure” American policy makers ignored the unique set of circumstances that inspired Pakistan’s actions, and the resulting misunderstanding led to poor relations with Pakistan in a time when its friendship is vital to American security interests. Traditionally, America’s interests in Pakistan were the containment of the U.S.S.R., but Pakistan’s main interests have been directed towards its greatest threat, India (Grare, 4568).

To supplement this realization of American costs, another general lesson can be learned from America’s experience with Pakistan. Multilateralism is most times a very viable option. While the forces currently in Afghanistan are U.S. and NATO, American military history with Pakistan has been primarily unilateral. If the U.S. wishes to divert some of the negative attention it should proceed to act more diplomatically and multilaterally to minimize costs and maximize legitimacy (Walt, 63).

The costs of American policies are not just measured in sustainability, but also in popularity, something that Walt keys on as well (Walt, 59). Currently polls show that most Pakistani’s hold a distrust of American intentions and actions, believing that U.S. intentions are centered on splitting up the Muslim world (Innocent, 17).

D. Deflation of American policy

Similar to the previously mentioned point, American policy has expanded to a level that is neither safe nor sustainable. Walt point to a few obvious examples of American overexpansion, but the most relevant examples are American involvement in negotiations between Palestinian interests and the state of Israel, and the pro-oil tone that America takes in the Middle East, despite the numerous problems arising from its support of nations like Saudi Arabia (Walt, 70-73).

Besides the resentment terrorists feel towards expansive American foreign policy, this policy is unsustainable. In the 1990’s America deepened its commitments to numerous areas of the world, namely Central Europe and the Middle East and while preparing for the invasion of Iraq the U.S. withdrew numerous special operations and intelligence forces from their pursuit of bin Laden (Walt, 58; Innocent, 7). American policy is too expansive, and now that it has commitments to a country will little to no education, infrastructure, or political stability, American policy needs to be reconsidered and substantially scaled back.

Congruently, America cannot afford to nation build as some officials such as Paul Williams, former state department lawyer, suggest, claiming Washington “must be ready with a strategy for Afghan nation building” because “it cannot prevent the…spawning of new terrorist networks unless it works to build a more stable post-terrorist environment in…the region from the Black Sea to Western China” (Dempsey, 2). This policy suggestion is incredibly absurd. The ability to transform the cultural landscape of a major portion of the world is not only hubristic, but is entirely unrealistic. An easier and more effective alternative is to scale back American international presence thereby severely lessening the ideological lifeline of terrorism.
Most of the nation-building talk is based upon the belief that poverty and ignorance provide the necessary environment for terrorism; however, the facts indicate otherwise (Dempsey, 3). Osama bin Laden, the $25 million enemy, is a multimillionaire, and the terrorists that led the September 11th attacks were “highly educated and well off” (3,4). Similarly, before the September 11th attacks the US was “by far the largest donor of food and other aid to Afghanistan” (8).

Similarly, if the U.S. were to engage in a policy of nation building and promotion of stability the conventional military strength of Pakistan would be severely degraded to a point of substantial concern (Innocent, 15).

E. Avoid international abandonment

America has a significant history of abandonment with Pakistan since essentially its creation. In the 1960’s debate by American policy makers over debts held by Pakistan and the emergence of India’s strengthening socio-political institutions as a possibly better partner in counterbalancing communist China (Nawaz, Crossed Swords, 193). From that point forward the U.S. began to develop a new strategy in South Asia (193). U.S. policy began to take a more condescending approach in respect to aid to Pakistan, leveraging its dependency on foreign aid to fit its strategic goals in the region (198). Along with the sanctions of the Pressler Amendment in the 1990’s the U.S. took a stance that on Pakistan that just fell short of writing off Pakistan as a terrorist state, but U.S. suspicions did not regress (Nawaz Crossed Swords, 467).

However, U.S. suspicion was partially unwarranted and perhaps a bit too ideologically bent. During the U.S. humanitarian intervention in Somalia the U.S. worked closely with Pakistani forces, relying on them for rescue at one point (469). All this is to say that American ideological differences should not lead to abandonment of foreign countries or manipulation of their political systems. This is not to say that the U.S. should not protect its own interests, or that it should not be afraid to use harsh tones with other nations, but American policy should keep in mind that it cannot afford significant losses in international opinion.