The Future of Cooperation between the United States and Pakistan
October 25, 2013
The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been redefined repeatedly since Pakistan’s independence in 1947. It will continue to be strained by mutual distrust, internal threats to Pakistan’s stability, Pakistan’s relations with its neighbors and militants, and the U.S. role in Afghanistan beyond 2014. But there is a growing recognition that the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is one of mutual necessity—“transactional” rather than “strategic.” This pragmatic recognition, along with recent developments (such as the peaceful transfer of power between elected civilian governments, the military’s declining prestige, and the political establishment’s growing willingness to engage constructively with India) and ongoing pressures (such as Pakistan’s youth bulge and energy crisis), give the United States and Pakistan a chance to focus on areas where cooperation is actually possible: civilian aid, trade relations, and support to Pakistan’s private sector. The author based these findings on interviews and rountables involving more than 220 officials and experts during a two-month field visit in Pakistan in late 2012.