Former U.S. Ambassador Charts New Policy Course For Pakistan
May 12, 2011
Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations, has been vocal in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, seeing the development as an opportunity to redefine U.S.-Pakistani relations.
In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Khalilzad charts the course he believes should be taken to make Pakistan a true partner in the fight against terrorism.
"I hope that now that we have more information, the U.S. should not limit itself to celebrating bin Laden's death," he says. "It should use its leverage and pressure to press Pakistan for a fundamental change [in its antiterrorism and Afghan policies]. This is the right time because there are many questions inside and outside Pakistan."
Khalilzad's points draw on two commentaries he has written since bin Laden's death on May 2. In "The Great Pakistan Rethink," published May 5 in the foreign-policy journal "The National Interest," Khalilzad calls for Washington to follow a three-step strategy to get Pakistan on board as a true partner in the fight against terrorism.
In "The New York Times" on May 5, he expands on his argument with "Demanding Answers From Pakistan." In that piece, he states that Washington now has the "leverage to force Pakistan to reconsider" its role as both "friend and adversary." Among the tools at Washington's disposal are the withholding of aid, improving ties with India and Afghanistan, lessening its dependence on Pakistan for supply routes, and maintaining a small force in Afghanistan capable of carrying out counterterrorism operations.
Step 1 in his strategy, as Khalilzad explains in "The National Interest," pertains to taking a sharp look at Pakistan's "haphazard cooperation" in moving against extremists.
"We should discuss the evidence and related issues with Pakistani leaders through official channels and demand the elimination of the remaining Al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan," Khalilzad writes. This could mean arresting extremists and turning them over to the United States, or sharing information with Washington to allow its forces to operate against them.
In his interview with RFE/RL, Khalilzad suggests that the prospect of UN scrutiny into its relationship with terrorists can help prod Pakistan to cooperate.
"The best way will be to use the information that the U.S. has acquired [from the raid against bin Laden] -- particularly regarding the network that supported bin Laden -- and clearly talk to the Pakistani authorities so they help in arresting other [Al-Qaeda] figures living there," Khalilzad says. "And if Pakistan is reluctant to do so, this information should be used, for instance, by a United Nations team chosen by the UN Security Council so that Pakistan cooperates with that team. They can study these issues and determine why bin Laden and other terrorist elements are in Pakistan and what are their relations with other elements in Pakistan."
Role In Producing IEDs
Khalilzad argues that even as it has worked with the United States on some fronts, it has also escalated pressure on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, for example by allowing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to be manufactured on its soil.
"[Pakistan] either permits or has a role in producing some IEDs, which are produced in its territory, and which are then sent to Afghanistan," he says, "where they result in the killing of innocent Afghan civilians and Afghan and American soldiers."
With that in mind, the second step in Khalilzad's strategy outlined in "The National Interest" is to push for the elimination of IED factories and signal that the United States would take direct measures if Pakistan failed to act.
The third step deals with the Afghan insurgency. Khalilzad argues in "The National Interest" that Pakistan "provides them with sanctuary and has enormous influence over the Taliban and the Haqqani network." The challenge is to convince Islamabad to work with the United States by halting such support, and to embrace a constructive approach to an agreement ending the Afghan dispute and an agreement with the Taliban.
As a carrot -- or a stick -- Khalilzad calls for a structure that would require Pakistan to meet its obligations in a timely fashion or face the loss of security-related assistance, such as funds that reimburse the Pakistani military for counterterrorism operations and which "constitute a significant subsidy for its operating budget."
'Put An End To Its Duplicity'
If Pakistan refuses to cooperate, Khalilzad states bluntly in his May 12 commentary in "The New York Times," Washington "must put an end to its duplicity."
In the event it came to that, the United States would have placed itself in a strong position to deal with Pakistan by taking a number of smaller steps along Khalilzad's strategy course.
They include giving the United States "more leeway to consider unilateral attacks against terrorists and insurgents in Pakistan" by reducing dependence on supply lines running from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Alternate routes through Azerbaijan and Central Asia should be expanded, Khalilzad suggests in "The New York Times."
The United States can help Afghanistan stave off interference from Pakistan by continuing to help build, train, and support Afghan security forces, while providing air support and intelligence-gathering capabilities that Kabul lacks, according to Khalilzad.
A long-term agreement could be worked out with Kabul that would allow the United States "to maintain a small, enduring military presence that would give us the capability to conduct counterterrorism operations and respond to possibilities like Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of extremists."
And finally, Khalilzad writes in "The New York Times," Washington "could consider seeking a United Nations Security Council resolution to authorize an investigation into how bin Laden managed to hide in plain view."
Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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