Daniel Pipes on “U.S.-Pakistan Relations in Decline”


Dr. Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum (www.mef.org)

by Daniel Pipes

Although the execution of Osama bin Laden was mainly a symbolic and psychological act of counterterrorism, its most immediate consequence, ironically, affects U.S.-Pakistan relations.

This sudden crisis in relations may be unexpected but it culminates a process that has developed over decades. Pakistan is one of several Muslim-majority countries (Yemen is another; Turkey is becoming a third) where the U.S. government basically lacks any friends.

Obama and Zardari: Allies no more?

Although such a situation severely limits American options, here is a realistic policy recommendation that serves American interests:

Give up on the pretence that the two governments are allies and treat Pakistan – with its many madrassahs, its Islamist military leadership, and rogue intelligence service – as a danger zone. Adopt a policy of containment vis-à-vis the Islamism coming out of it, rewarding cooperation and punishing hostile acts. This approach permits Washington flexibly to collaborate or confront as circumstances warrant and needs change.

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18 Responses to Daniel Pipes on “U.S.-Pakistan Relations in Decline”

  1. kamekish says:

    Submitted by kamekish (India)

    I was disappointed to see the photograph of Obama talking seriously and Zardari laughing or smiling. This is not the way, Americans who are fighting across the world to bring world peace should select allies especially in Muslim countries. American need to be conscious in choosing the road ahead.

    It is not a relation, it should be “Real Governance”.

    Today USA has advantage to have Muslim President. It is easy to apease the huge community. America must take advantage of this before it starts working on more progressive aspect of humanit growth.

    In spite of initial disappointment, I liked the way the article ended. “Give up on the pretence that the two governments are allies and treat Pakistan – with its many madrassahs, its Islamist military leadership, etc”

    Pakistan is not at all could be an allies of world peace. Pakistan secretly harness the joy of cultivating terror to blackmail the peace loving community. It is doing the same to India and Indian media & Intelligentias.

    Pakistan need to be declared a “Terrorist State” and all necessary action needs to be taken to ensure a better and responsible governance.

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  2. Kepha Hor says:

    Submitted by Kepha Hor (United States)

    We must never forget that Pakistan has a powerful ally–Mainland China–bought with every military secret Pakistan was privvy to when it belonged to the late SEATO alliance. And, Pakistan is so grateful for China’s help and harrassment of India that Pakistan has always stayed as mute as the fishes when China persecuted its Muslims in the name of Communist purity.

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  3. richard says:

    Submitted by richard (United States)

    Yes. I agree; keeping in mind that they have nukes. “Difficult to see, the future is….” (Yoda)

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  4. Leonard Markowitz says:

    Submitted by Leonard Markowitz (United States)

    It was necessary to be in Afghanistan to punish the Taliban for 9/11. It is now also necessary for us to withdraw completely. Continuing the battle against the Taliban in Pakistan is a losing proposition. Our attempt to build an effective Afghani fighting force to replace us is not possible. The Kharzai government is incompetent and corrupt. The best that we can hope for is for the Afghani warlords to recruit their own fighting forces to combat the Taliban when they attempt to retake Afghanistan. The cost of human life and dollars for the US is not worth the battle there. When the indigenous population cannot or will not effectively fight to save their country, there is nothing we can do to salvage anything from our effort. This was true in South Vietnam and it’s now true in Afghanistan. Pakistan is convinced that when we leave, the Taliban will retake Afghanistan, hence their non-cooperation with us.

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    • Peter Herz says:

      Submitted by Peter Herz (United States)

      That the South Vietnamese were unwilling to fight for themselves is a myth designed to enhance the image of the “inevitable” triumph of Marxism-Leninism. We cut off the aid and began withdrawal in 1973, and it took the North Vietnamese regulars two years to conquer the South. Doesn’t seem so bad when compared with our “Fighting French” allies in World War II, who collapsed in a matter of weeks.

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  5. richard says:

    Submitted by richard (United States)

    Absolutely. Very clear, incisive statement. I totally agree.

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  6. Frank Luke says:

    Submitted by Frank Luke (United States)

    Now that we have got rid of Bin Laden perhaps it is time to save that $4.5 billion handout. However, let us remember that moderate leaders in Moslem lands have to make some noises about “sovereignity” to pander to the feelings of some of their countrymen. Pakistanis were never known for their balanced views. Most of them view issues in terms of “Pro Islamic – Anti Islamic” because they have been brainwashed by their religious leaders. Moderates in Pakistan are aware of this brainwashing and if they (moderates) want to remain significant in Pakistani politics, they will need to say at lease SOMEthing negative about America from time to time. In this case, we need to accuse the Pakistani government (at least publicly) of protecting Bin Laden. Be hard with the extremists and soft with the moderates – that is the golden rule.

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  7. Ravi Ranjan Singh Bharat Panthi says:

    Submitted by Ravi Ranjan Singh Bharat Panthi (India)

    The total cost direct or indirect incurred for War Against Terror is to be Recovered from TERROISTAN(PAKISTAN)

    The Damages Cost, the preventive steps cost along with interest is to be recovered by Human Race from Pakis (the terrorist organizations including their Military)

    The only option civilized world has, is to take over of failed, rogue state of Pakistan, dismantle its military establishment and arrest them all, treat them as manslaughter, money launderer, drug dealer and terrorist, seize their military assets,freeze their accounts, defuse military nuclear systems. Help ordinary citizens of Pakistan to establish real democratic and impartial government.

    For their self defence new non-jihadi outlook, non-xenophobic, force can be raized under guidance and on the line of professional military of US and India.

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  8. M. Tovey says:

    Submitted by M. Tovey (United States)

    I have read and heard so many times, “keeps your friends close; and your enemies closer.” But what if you cannot discern the difference? This is not merely true for we here in America, but evidence shown last May 1st, there are some that have more to lose in this kind of predicament than us.

    While it might be rightly said that an era is over, that a dark part of American history has broken out from under that dark cloud of September 11, 2001, we are merely in the eye of the hurricane. Before dealing with the aftermath, we need to get to the other side of the storm. We might be able to ride the eye for a while, but eventually the rest of the storm must be ridden out; or in a best case scenario, it sputters out. Given the intensity of the antipathies of much of the orient against the United States, it is not likely they are going away any time soon.

    Some might say that there is closure, that we accomplished the will of the aftermath of September 11th, yet what we actually found out about that terrible day is that Osama bin Laden was not alone in his virulently vindictive attitude towards the United States; and the pain and anguish he managed to have wrought upon America was in no means accomplished but that he had willing partners to do his bidding. His accomplices were/are legion(many), and many others are accomplices by tacit implication. For all of that evil intent against America, we finally made sure that the rest of the global community that thought the U.S.A. deserved the destruction of the twin towers got to feel some of that pain as well. Is that vindictiveness? Think about it: to the extent that America needed to exact payment for an act of war against the civilian population, payment was finally extracted. But it is not over.

    As such, America cannot relax in its vigilance, for as noted, bin Laden was not alone. Neither is his vendetta against things American extinguished. In the very place where he was able to hide in plain sight, the exact same feelings are manifest in a way that is not unmistakable. Do we think we have some sympathy left in Islamabad? Go back to the opener; the second sentence. Discernment is the key. One of the things needed to be understood is that bin Laden, for all of his islamically driven hatred for things American and the coincident sentiments of his host society, he was still an outsider. The sentiments of the remainder of the Islamic world remain the same, even if bin Laden’s methodologies seared against the mores of a supposedly more civil society.

    We might take a note from the war actions across the northern border of Pakistan and realize that we still fight against islamically driven hatred of the Taliban. We can contrast the actions of bin Laden’s conducting warfare on a society by his planning and executing attacks on non-military objectives with the Taliban’s efforts against the United States Military and derive one conclusion. Normally, the United States Military will plan to prevent collateral damage(not always easy to do-why is to be demonstrated shortly here) because in the meantime it has been shown that the residential population is used by the enemy combatants in a way that purposefully puts civilians in harm’s way as a means of defense. Is that appropriate behavior? Go back to the opener; the second sentence… in this case, we even hear of collusion on the part of sympathetic partisans in the indigent population. How does the American military planner deal with that? Therein lays the basis for the conundrum.

    America has been a land of opportunity, of freedoms and liberties not too many other places in this world have been able to enjoy, for a variety of reasons, political and otherwise. From that framework, it is sympathetically thought that people from all over seek those freedoms, even from countries that have less than sympathetic sentiments towards America. Muslims from around the world have been here for centuries, but it is only in the past few decades that we do see evidence of the intent to destroy the reason why millions came here for freedom, just so that the Islamically based mentality we see in the ‘bin Ladens’ can erase those freedoms for the sake of recalling former Islamic glory.

    Therein lays the test, a litmus examination of what the world really seeks: American style freedom and liberties; or the promises of an oppressive society that must enforce its provisions upon unwilling populations that will be deprived of what America offered. Discern that; and then there will be an understanding of why the world cannot find it own form of peace: for it apparently cannot bear to allow America to export its greatest wealth, that of freedom and liberty for all.

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  9. Shadi Katyal says:

    Submitted by Shadi Katyal (United States)

    This is a wishful thinking as Pakistan has an excellent ambassdor and very close relations in Pentagon. Adm. Mullen is very close with Gen. Kiyani and despite known for almost a decade that Osma Bin Laden was being protected by ISI and Pak army, USA like drunks kept pouring money and helped to develop a culture of Terrorist. One has to ask are we creating our own destruction by allowing Pakistan to train terrorists for the globe. Take any terrorist act to this date anywhere and you will find hand of Pakistan training in it.

    One laughs when one reads Mr. Gillani remarks that whole world intelligence failed about Osama? Are we so big fools to beleive such statement. Has USA Congress guts to ask and demand explusion of Mullah Umar whom Pakistan has not only give refuge but supplies IED to kill Nato and Usa soliders?

    Pakistan claims that she has suffered more due to USA involvement in Afghanistan but fails to tell the world of her own Taliban an auxilary force of Pak army who attacks Nato etc with guidance of ISI.

    The gravy train should stop for good ,and wait till Paklistan plays the China card and black mails USA.

    I for one am sure that helicopter parts collected are already on way to china to evaluate the new technology.

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    • sara says:

      Submitted by sara (United States)

      I am troubled by the fact that the US team did not successfully incinerate the stealth heli with secret technology,to such an extent that it is publicly portrayed in the media as having special stealth technology. The Pakistanis will no doubt courrier that right over to China, Russia, and anyone else for the right price. I hope that it does not prove to be a serious error in the future.

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  10. Ravi Ranjan Singh Bharat Panthi says:

    Submitted by Ravi Ranjan Singh Bharat Panthi (India)

    Once a Pakistani soldier was asked that why he had no children while he has been married for years?

    Being afraid of being labeled anti-Muslim for not producing babies to wipe out Kafirs or being Court-Marshaled, he said well that he is not only to be blamed of being impotent, this is joint failure of his regiment and his villagers, as he is married for so many years, half the time his wife stayed in army station and half the time in his village, what my officers in Army and Maulvis in village doing all these years, they are all impotent and to be blamed.

    Now PM declares that if Laden is in ISI guest house, why did ——

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  11. Vijay says:

    Submitted by Vijay (Germany)

    Mr.Katiyal has made an excellent analysis. No one can be under an illusion that this is the last straw on the camel’s back and somehow the US will settle accounts with Pakistan due to it’s brazen protection of Bin laden.

    For more than 40 years the US has overlooked every criminality of the Pakistani state and it’s military Establishment , even when they have been against the interests and values of the US itself. When Pakistan went on a genocidal spree in east bengal in 1971 killing 3 million people and expelling 12 million, there was not even a wimper of protest from the US and the whole matter of shrugged off. Pakistan traded nuclear technology with all and sundry including North Korea, still it was forgiven. Pakistani army has been nurturing Jihadis and terror networks , which wreak mayhem in many parts of the world, especially Afghanistan and India, that is also forgiven. pakistan army has been giving sanctuary to the Afghan taliban, that is also forgiven.

    Given 40 years of the US turning a blind eye to Pakistan’s genocidal and criminal ventures, even when they have hurt the US, which fool is going to believe Pakistan’s cozy sancturay for Osama Bin laden is going to invite washington’s wrath.

    The US will continue to bribe Pakistan with billiions of $$$ for no apparent or commensurate benefit . Like a masochistic wife with an abusive husband, the US will continue to humour Pakistan

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  12. Benjamin Medved says:

    Submitted by Benjamin Medved (United States)

    I hope the decision makers in Washington listen to Dr. Pipes’ brilliant analysis. From my perspective as an educator in the SF Bay Area, it seems that many question the preposterous supposition that the Pakistanis were unaware of Bin Laden’s presence. This would have made Maxwell Smart (Don Adams, Get Smart) blush from an absurd scenario even he couldn’t conscience. There is no question that we should be parsimonious in giving aid when not deserved based on lack of cooperation, less so when it is.

    Since 2/3 of educated Pakistanis believe that the Mosad/CIA are the true culprits in 9/11, their leadership could be conditioned to a high level of gullibility in their audience. Most Americans are considerably less credulous, with the notable exception of the “Birthers,” so some skepticism is in order.

  13. Isaac Flaks says:

    Submitted by Isaac Flaks (United States)

    Pakistan is country that is not for anything close to a free society with its Muslim control and will befriend anyone who supplies their mantra. Ben Laden was living within smelling distance of the Pakistan Military and they did not flex a muscle and pretended they did know he was there, now that is a lie. Of course the whole action of killing Ben Laden raises numerous questions. Obama’s failure to allow pictures of Ben laden after he was killed was definite diplomatic error that would give proof positive the evil person Ben laden is dead. Pictures of Saddam’s body and also his sons were plastered all over the News Media and they were gruesome. Any violence put out by the Muslims should be handled with strength and decisiveness and without weakness and fear.

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  14. Lorenz Gude says:

    Submitted by Lorenz Gude (Australia)

    I have been thinking that Pakistan’s hiding of OBL outs them as a state sponsor of terrorism as did the Mumbai shootings in a different way. Pretending that Pakistan or Saudi Arabia are friends as both this administration and the previous one have continuously done or that we can meaningfully engage Iran or Syria seems to me delusional. The word ‘enemies’ comes to mind. So your proposal to treat Pakistan accordingly helps me see alternatives our current bipartisan pretense. Should you become Secretary of State I wish you good luck dealing with the Mandarins of Foggy Bottom.

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  15. Susan Somerville says:

    Submitted by Susan Somerville (United States)

    Dear Daniel Pipes,

    We have some difficulty getting 2.5 – 3 billion dollars to aid a friendly nation, such as Israel. However, Pakistan, which may have been clued-in to the whereabouts of Bin Laden all along, receives 4.5 billion in aid, is truly perplexing to me!

    I really think that our government needs to wise up fast!!!!!

  16. John Wright says:

    Submitted by John Wright (United States)

    Who can seriously argue against the fact that Pakistan is an enemy of America and it’s values. The country is an anarchic cesspool of Islamist radicalism and hatred of all that is Western from religion to democracy. They are not friends of the USA. Treat them as the danger that they are, no different then Iran, North Korea and Al Qaeda.

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