Meanwhile, the expansion of northern routes through Central Asia provides the United States with alternatives to Pakistani supply lines. The drawdown of forces will further reduce Washington’s logistical requirements, giving it greater freedom to launch unilateral operations against terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan.
In the short term, the United States should implement a two-phase strategy to insist on real change in Pakistan’s hostile policies.
To preclude Pakistan from manipulating different departments and senior officials, the Obama administration, as a united front, should offer a stark set of positive and negative inducements. A clear choice will clarify whether Pakistan’s intentions in Afghanistan are principally guided by fear or by ambition.
In exchange for Pakistan playing a constructive role in Afghanistan, the United States should be willing to: support expanded IMF and other multilateral assistance; sustain financial and military aid; and promote a major, multilateral diplomatic effort to mediate disputes among Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The initial focus must be accepting a reasonable agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan and reconciliation with Pakistan-backed insurgents who accept U.S. red lines, followed by an India-Pakistan peace and normalization process. We should also support multilateral investment in infrastructure projects that would integrate Pakistan in regional commerce.
If positive inducements prove insufficient in securing reliable Pakistani cooperation, the United States should curb military assistance; mobilize coordinated financial pressure against Pakistan through allies and the IMF; and expand military operations against insurgent and terrorist targets in Pakistan.
We should also continue to expand the northern corridor that now transports more than 40 percent of U.S. supplies delivered by land to Afghanistan.
Should Pakistani intransigence persist, the United States will need a long-term strategy that manages the threat from Pakistan and embraces a broad multilateral effort to assist those Pakistanis who seek to transform their country. This would, in part, require the United States to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan to counter the terror threat and assist in preventing the victory of Pakistani proxies in Afghanistan. We would also need to consider accelerating security ties with India as part of a containment regime against Pakistan. Most important, the United States would have to channel bilateral assistance to Pakistan in a way that empowers moderate civil society but reduces support for the military.
There is no guarantee this approach will overcome the ideological and religious allegiances that inspire Pakistani support for the insurgency in Afghanistan. Ultimately, only the Pakistani people and a new generation of civilian leadership can rein in the country’s military leaders.
The writer, a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration.