The Pakistan Puzzle

by Michael Crowley | December 11, 2009

In a New York Times op-ed today largely in support of Obama's Afghanistan plan, Nate Fick of the Center for a New American Security writes:

Progress depends on two political developments: inducing the administration of President Hamid Karzai to govern effectively, and persuading Pakistan that militant groups within its borders pose as great a threat to Islamabad as they do to Kabul.

The latter proposition--bolded by me--is an oft-repeated one. But there's something odd about it. Why wouldn't Pakistan have at least as clear an idea of who poses a real threat to Islamabad as we do? Indeed, chances are they have a better grasp of this question than do policymakers in Washington.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that the militants in Pakistan are extremely nasty and dangerous, and I hope they're wiped out quickly. But even in light of their recent advances, the risk of the radicals taking over the government seem slim. I sometimes wonder whether we're trying to convince Pakistan of something we want them to believe is true --but which in fact is not true enough to make them pursue the policies we're advocating in our own interests.

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