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US ex-official wants change in Pakistan policy

Publication Date : 12-07-2012


The Obama administration needs to shift its priorities from Afghanistan-Pakistan to Pakistan-Afghanistan, a former senior State Department official said, urging the United States to increase its engagement with Pakistan.

In an opinion piece he wrote for the BBC, former US Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley also emphasised the need to make the war against terrorists Pakistan’s war as well and "not just an American war".

Crowley, who was made to resign on March 13, 2011, after he criticised the treatment of a WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, said relations between the US and Pakistan had to go beyond opening supply routes.

He noted that not only did the United States withhold its discovery of Osama bin Laden from Pakistan prior to the Navy Seal raid, but also added forces to be able to fight its way out of Pakistan — ostensibly an ally — if necessary.

Despite the furious reaction within Pakistan, there has been remarkably little outreach to the Pakistani people in the year since, despite the administration's emphasis on international engagement and strategic communication, he wrote.

Similarly, he noted, Pakistan's rushed conviction of Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA locate Bin Laden, incensed legislative leaders in Washington, resulting in the withholding of millions of dollars in aid.

Crowley pointed out that Pakistan also had not shared with the United States its investigation into how Bin Laden arrived in Abbottabad, who supported him and who else knew.

"The two countries have overlapping interests, but there are dramatically different views of the threat. The United States worries about violent extremists. Pakistan obsesses about India," he wrote.

Crowley argued that if the US wanted an enduring, strategic and more clearly defined relationship with Pakistan, it "needs to shift its priority from Af-Pak to Pak-Af".

The two challenges, he noted, were joined at the hip, but "ultimately Pakistan is of far greater long-term strategic importance than whatever "good enough" results can be achieved in Afghanistan before 2014".

Crowley also argued that increased cooperation with Pakistan on Afghanistan was possible and necessary. Noting that the US had long encouraged a role for Pakistan in an Afghan-led reconciliation process, he emphasised the need to make this role "more formalised and more public".


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