A Perilous Course
August 24, 2007
For American assistance to be effective in a large-aid-recipient state such as Pakistan, it must go beyond transactional, quid pro quo deals and address the country’s main drivers of conflict, instability and extremism. Despite more than $10 billion in U.S. assistance since September 11, 2001, distrust, dissatisfaction and unrealistic expectations continue to undermine the official goal of developing a strong, strategic and enduring partnership.
Pakistan’s main drivers of conflict, instability and extremism include: a culture of impunity and injustice, discontent in the provinces, ethnic and sectarian tensions, a rapidly growing and urbanizing youth population, and extremist views among traditional allies. Militant groups exploit these underlying conditions to recruit followers on the basis of a narrative of shared suffering and injustice and the failure of the state to provide stability or prosperity.