US needs to become friendlier with Pakistan, says CFR’s Daniel Markey

New report advocates US to play a role in bettering Indo-Pak relations.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: A new report put out by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) argues that the US needs to become friendlier with Pakistan in order to secure its interests in the volatile region of Asia.

Entitled “Re-orienting US Pakistan Strategy: From Af-Pak to Asia,” the report advocates that improving ties between the US and Pakistan, which haven’t exactly been stellar over the past decade during the War on Terror, will lead to better stability in the region and a more secure future for the US, as well. Specifically, it says that any conflict between Pakistan and India could prove to have disastrous long-term consequences for all countries in the area and the US as well.

“An armed conflict between India and Pakistan, or a major Pakistan-based terror attack on India, would not only disrupt India’s booming economy but also affect wider regional stability,” says the report, written by the CFR’s Daniel S. Markey.

Markey repeatedly reiterates that regional stability and regional integration are the critical factors in allowing Pakistan to improve itself and, by extension, Asia as a whole. Calling it the “two-pronged approach,” the report says that Pakistan should open dialogues with the US, India, and China for the purposes of counter-terrorism and domestic security, and that the US should take a leadership role in helping Pakistan develop amicable relationships – commercial, political, whatever it may be – with its neighboring nations.

Among Markey’s suggestions for regional integration are “a trade agreement with India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan that would offer preferential access to American markets on the condition that those countries reduce barriers to intraregional trade,” US support of a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline project, and that the US “focus its civilian aid on other trade-related infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and ports.”

The main take-away from the report is that regardless of what route the US chooses to take with Pakistan, the consequences for the Asian region will be felt around the world. The US must ultimately consider all possible outcomes before deciding its next move.

“A clean break between Pakistan and the United States seems unlikely, despite simmering disagreements over a number of issues,” says Markey. “Also unlikely is a full rapprochement. That said, if it chose to do so, Pakistan could contribute to the advancement of U.S. priorities in Asia, Afghanistan, and the war on terror, but the country’s weak governance, slow economic growth, and growing nuclear arsenal combine to cast serious doubt on whether it will so choose.”

Markey is a CFR Senior Fellow on India, Pakistan, and South Asia, specializing in security and governance issues related to said geographic area. From 2003 to 2007, he headed up the South Asia portfolio for the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Planning Staff, and taught at Princeton University for several years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in international studies from Johns Hopkins University, and his Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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