About the Paper

As the United States and Pakistan approach 75 years of bilateral engagement, the relationship between the two countries is at a critical crossroads. While viewing the US-Pakistan relationship exclusively through the security lens seems to be untenable, the road ahead, in the broader context of the Afghanistan withdrawal and great power competition, remains murky. Nevertheless, there exists a willingness on both sides to avoid the lows of the 1990s even if the highs of the 1980s or 2000s are not possible. It is, therefore, important to understand the interplay of the current state of diverging and converging interests of both countries that may inform the contours of a “right sized” relationship. This discussion paper is a culmination of input received from sectoral and policy experts from both countries on the key areas of concern. It attempts to outline a rethinking of US-Pakistan relations against the background of changing priorities in the region and globally for both the United States and Pakistan.

About the Authors

Hamza Ijaz has served as a member of UNDP Pakistan’s Inclusivity and Governance Cluster for localization of sustainable development goals in Pakistan, as well as team lead for the development of the Punjab IT Policy 2018. Ijaz holds a master’s degree in governance and public policy from the University of Passau, Germany. Ijaz is currently working as a Senior Program Officer at USIP.

Imran Khan is USIP’s country director in Pakistan, where he has taught courses on public policy and governance at the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, and has over 12 years of experience in the social development sector, particularly in the fields of peacebuilding and education reforms. Khan holds a master’s degree in anthropology and development from the London School of Economics.

Maryam Kiyani works as a consultant with USIP. Kiyani previously worked as a research journalist and podcast host at a youth-led and research-driven digital media platform, where she worked on stories on Afghanistan, international relations, society, and gender. She has a BA in history honors from the Lahore University of Management Sciences, where she researched themes of imperialism in South Asia, colonization and decoloniality, state-citizen relationships, and alternate/(re)imagined histories.

Dr. Adnan Rafiq formerly served as USIP’s country director in Pakistan and works on Member Governance, Innovation and Reforms at the Planning Commission of Pakistan. As a consultant on security issues at the Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan, he has led the technical team that formulated the National Internal Security Policy (2018–22). Rafiq holds a PhD in politics from the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford.

This research was funded by USIP’s Asia Center, which is solely responsible for the accuracy and thoroughness of the content.

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