April 15, 2012
By, Vali Nasr
The snarling between the U.S. and Pakistan won’t let up. The battle began, of course, when U.S. forces sneaked into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden last May.
Last week, the U.S. upped the ante, announcing a $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest of notorious terrorist Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is thought to be close to Pakistani intelligence. Things are so bad, Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid pronounced in his recently published book, “The United States and Pakistan are just short of going to war.”
America’s greater fear is that Pakistan will get in the way of war. Pakistan’s Parliament last week unanimously voted to forbid the U.S. from conducting drone strikes inside Pakistani territory. If the measure is implemented, it will deny the U.S. its most effective weapon against al-Qaeda and other militant groups.
Yet, as worrisome as the trend in bilateral relations is, other developments within Pakistan signal that the country may be changing for the better, in terms of the military’s role, democratic tendencies and relations with India. By focusing on the security dimension of its relationship with Pakistan, the U.S. risks missing these currents and thus the opportunity to engage with the country in fruitful new ways.