The United States Should Change Its View on Pakistan

-With a Friend Like This

By ANATOL LIEVEN

If Washington wishes to improve relations with Pakistan, it needs to stop regarding Pakistan as an ally, and to start regarding it as an enemy — at least as far as the Afghan War is concerned.

Seeing Pakistan as an ally has not only obscured the reality of the situation, but has bred exaggerated bitterness at Pakistani “treachery.” And since Pakistanis also believe that America has “betrayed” them, the result is a thin veneer of friendship over a morass of mutual distrust and even hatred.

It would be far better from every point of view to admit that the two countries’ policies over Afghanistan are opposed to the point of limited conflict — and then seek ways to negotiate an end to that conflict.

Very little affection has ever been involved in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, and both sides have sought their own advantage at the other’s expense. The Pakistani masses have long harbored deep hostility to the United States, which is now being reciprocated by many Americans. Given the appalling consequences for both countries of an armed clash, there is every reason why both sides should seek to keep their mutual hostility from getting out of hand.

The need for a change in U.S. attitudes toward Pakistan forms part of what should be a wider shift in U.S. attitudes to the outside world. Not just in the “Global War on Terror,” but in the Cold War, Americans have been strongly influenced by the belief that “you’re either with us, or against us.” …..

Read more » The New York Times

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