President-elect Trump’s surprise November phone conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif underscored Pakistan’s continuing importance to U.S. interests in a stable South Asia. The new U.S. administration can expect to see this vital country hold national elections within 18 months. On January 30, the U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a conversation with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, the largest opposition party in parliament. The discussion addressed Pakistan’s serious internal security challenges; debate among Pakistani civilian and military leaders over the country’s domestic counterterrorism initiatives; and Pakistan’s broader political and democratic dynamics. As a new U.S. administration and Congress begin work, Mr. Bhutto Zardari also shared his perspective on the two countries’ relationship.

Mr. Bhutto Zardari

January's visit of Mr. Bhutto Zardari to Washington represents an opportunity for broader dialogue between Pakistan’s political establishment and the new U.S. administration, Congress, and the policy community. Mr. Bhutto Zardari recently announced plans to contest a by-election and join the National Assembly—a step that will elevate his role in the political opposition, and that foreshadows a busy political season leading toward Pakistan’s elections next year. This public conversation with him was co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.


Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Chairman, Pakistan Peoples Party

James Carafano, Welcoming Remarks
Vice President, Heritage Foundation

Moeed Yusuf, Moderator
Associate Vice President, U.S. Institute of Peace

heritage foundation logo

Related Publications

How to Handle Pakistan’s Corporal Punishment Problem

How to Handle Pakistan’s Corporal Punishment Problem

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

By: Aleena Khan; Emily Ashbridge

Shameen, a ninth grade teacher in a low-cost private school in Islamabad, frequently turns around from the whiteboard to shout at the children for slouching and making noise. “Why are you smiling? Sit properly!” she calls out to one of the students. Holding a stick wrapped in tape, she asks students to open their hands and then smacks their palms several times whenever they fail to answer her questions correctly. This is an all too common scene from an average school in Pakistan—and sometimes it can be much worse.

Type: Blog

Education & Training

The India-Pakistan Rivalry in Afghanistan

The India-Pakistan Rivalry in Afghanistan

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

By: Zachary Constantino

The most consequential regional competition for influence in Afghanistan is the contest between India and Pakistan. Indian leaders strive to cultivate Afghanistan as a natural partner and reliable bulwark against Islamic militants, including Pakistan-backed groups, while Islamabad seeks to counter what it regards as an Indo-Afghan nexus to encircle and weaken Pakistan. This report examines the interests and strategies of both countries in Afghanistan within the context of peace negotiations and developments in Kashmir.

Type: Special Report

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Understanding Pakistan’s Deradicalization Programming

Understanding Pakistan’s Deradicalization Programming

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

By: Arsla Jawaid

Pakistan has struggled with Islamic militancy since the rise of the mujahideen in the 1980s. In the late 2000s, the Pakistan Army began establishing rehabilitation centers in the Swat Valley in an effort to deradicalize former Taliban fighters and other militants and reintegrate them into their communities. This report contrasts Pakistan’s deradicalization approach with the community-based program used in Denmark and the widely different prison-based program used in Saudi Arabia, and identifies areas in which the army’s approach could benefit from more extensive partnering with civilian-based organizations.

Type: Special Report

Violent Extremism

Strategic Implications of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Strategic Implications of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Monday, December 16, 2019

By: James Schwemlein

Great power politics is resurgent in South Asia today. China’s growing military ambition in the region is matched in financial terms by its Belt and Road Initiative, the largest and most advanced component of which is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. What remains unclear is how the United States should navigate the new dynamic. This report, which is based on research and consultations with experts worldwide, addresses the question of how the India-Pakistan rivalry will play into the emerging great power competition.

Type: Special Report

Economics & Environment

View All Publications