USIP’s Moeed Yusuf discusses the recent turmoil between the U.S. and Pakistan.

April 15, 2011

USIP’s Moeed Yusuf discusses the recent turmoil between the U.S. and Pakistan.

What do you make of the recent developments, and public exchanges, between Pakistan and the U.S.?

Nothing could have been more unfortunate at a time when the two sides seemed to be converging strategically on the need to work together on Afghanistan. The affair with Raymond Davis – the reported CIA contractor held in Pakistan after a deadly shooting incident in January - has thrown both sides off. The conventional wisdom on this relationship thus far was that while public sentiments on both sides are acutely negative, the Track I engagement, barring momentary tensions, are fruitful and cooperative. But, the blow-up after the Davis affair has broken that myth. It has brought to the fore just how fragile this relationship is all-round. Both sides seem to display a sense of betrayal, one that is going to enhance the mistrust to unprecedented levels.

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How would you characterize the state of relations between the two countries?

The Pakistan-U.S. relationship has hit a new low in this decade long partnership - and I include in this all major hiccups including the temporary closure of the NATO supply routes last year. This is the first time both Pakistani civilians and military are expressing resentment and frustration in unison. And as far as I can tell, the frustration is genuine. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, patience is running out, especially on Capitol Hill, and uncharacteristically so it seems in the Pentagon and Langley.

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What is USIP doing to improve the situation?

Given the tenuous and oscillatory nature of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, USIP’s Pakistan program continues to conduct research and programmatic activities aimed at furthering conflict prevention objectives. Among other activities, the Pakistan program recently examined U.S. options vis-à-vis Pakistan in case a future terrorist attack on U.S. soil is traced back to Pakistan. The program’s outreach strives to enhance mutual understanding between the two sides and to provide U.S. policymakers with fresh analyses on Pakistan. In addition, the Pakistan program has been working on a joint project with the Jinnah Institute entitled “The End Game in Afghanistan: View from Pakistan.” The project aims to assess the views of relevant Pakistani opinion makers and officials on the evolving situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s evolving position and role in the conflict. USIP also continues its outreach activities, hosting five public events featuring top experts within the first quarter of 2011, five public events were hosted featuring top experts. USIP also published the Peace Brief, “Future of Pakistan” and “Covering and Countering Extremism in Pakistan’s Developing Media” in March.

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