Stop Enabling Pakistan's Dangerous Dysfunction

Stop Enabling Pakistan's Dangerous Dysfunction
Policy Outlook
Because the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan means that Washington will be less dependent on Pakistani supply lines, it presents a rare opportunity to reconsider American policies and practices in Pakistan.
Related Media and Tools
As the United States begins to look to the end of its heavy fighting role in Afghanistan, it needs to confront the more important question of Pakistan’s future. The United States has been a major player there for sixty years; if Pakistan is dangerously dysfunctional, Washington helped enable it to get this way. Because withdrawal from Afghanistan means that the United States will be less dependent on Pakistani supply lines into that country, this is a rare opportunity to reconsider and dramatically revise American policies and practices in this strategically important country of almost 200 million.
The United States has frequently cited its interests in Pakistan: securing Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal; preventing war between it and India; counterterrorism; inducing Pakistan’s cooperation in stabilizing Afghanistan; and fostering development and democratization in what will soon be the world’s most populous Muslim-majority state. But overwhelmingly, these interests all boil down to one: the security of Pakistanis. If Pakistanis are more justly governed, more educated, more employed, and therefore more able to define and pursue a constructive national identity and interest, they will expunge terrorists to secure themselves. The United States will be better off as a result. Getting from here to there may be impossible, but it certainly will not happen if the United States continues to treat Pakistan as it has until now: as the means to pursue U.S. security interests outside the country.
For decades that posture has had the unintended but undeniable effect of empowering Pakistan’s grossly oversized and hyperactive military and intelligence services at the expense of the country’s civil society and progress toward effective governance. Washington’s collusion with the Pakistani security establishment has amounted to enablement—the indulgence and augmentation of a friend’s self-destructive outlook and actions. To stop doing harm, the United States would first have to give up the illusion that it can change the Pakistani military’s mindset, and stop offering money to do so. It would have to pause and then redesign a large aid program so hamstrung by anti-corruption and security measures that it antagonizes recipients and seems designed to fail. It would mean removing barriers to Pakistani imports into the United States, and, not least, undertaking determined efforts to correct the impression that Pakistani interests and lives mean less to the United States than Indian interests and lives.
End of document

Comments (6)

  • Omar
    Reply to this post

    Close Panel
  • Tariq
    A very objective and candid analysis with correct focus on way forward. Hope US policy makers pay heed to such advices!!! Also worth following by Pakistani political leadership.
    Reply to this post

    Close Panel
  • Azhar
    Spot on. The US owes this to the Pakistani nation and definitely its in US own interest as well. The sooner the two sides realize this the better it is.
    Reply to this post

    Close Panel
  • M. Suleman Shahid Islamabad
    1 Recommend
    Agreed, Excellent portrait for Pakistan's situation reformation.
    Reply to this post

    Close Panel
  • see the truth and say it
    1 Recommend
    what a farce, what happens in pakistan is mostly because of the intervention and malafide interests of the so called friends, and our hopeless penny a dozen easy to buy leaders. Yes the west does understand Paklistan's strategic importance but rather than engaging it for a win win they are interested to enslave it and take all. Yet they portray it as if it were all the fault of the pakistani people and that they are really there to help. true there is no morality in politics and that too one played by the super powers but there has to be limit to greed........
    Reply to this post

    Close Panel
  • Muhammad Naeem
    1 Recommend
    The very theory of globe governance played by US is bringing fruit in the region . American role in Pakistan has made it a parasite. Americans policies in Pakistan are to make it dependent on US. George Perkovich has shed light on the bitter situations Pakistanis have been enduring. As for as I understand , this is American role which has made difficulties for Pakistan. It is desirable to allow it to take breathe or we should prepare ourselves for change in scenario like Iran although the military junta is on pay roll of US. The elite class i-e politicians, bureaucrates and religious leaders along with military has nothing to do for the country. There is a common concept in Pakistan that US has always done against the masses . Although the leadership is not loyal yet US has to work for short of energy, give way of its markets to Pakistanis, boost its exports and in this way reduce unemployment among people. Hence decreasing poverty and illiteracy which is the sole cause of extremism. Special emphasis must be laid upon education and law and order. In this way , the impression of US in the world on one hand and in the Pakistan on the other would be considered balance.
    Reply to this post

    Close Panel

In Fact



of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


years ago

Carnegie began an internship program. Notable alumni include Samantha Power.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


million people killed

in Cold War conflicts.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.


new airports

are set to be built in China by 2015.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


million Russian citizens

are considered “ethnic Muslims.”

Stay in the Know

Enter your email address to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
Carnegie Europe
Carnegie Europe Rue du Congrès, 15 1000 Brussels, Belgium Phone: +32 2 735 56 50 Fax: +32 2736 6222
Please note...

You are leaving the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy's website and entering another Carnegie global site.


您离开卡内基 - 清华全球政策中心网站,进入另一个卡内基全球网站。