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The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan is at the breaking point. The Obama administration has suspended $800 million in aid, some of which was supposed to reimburse the Pakistanis for the cost of operating their military along the border with Afghanistan. Pakistan is threatening to pull its forces back now, and is also pushing the U.S. to end the drone strikes. The director of the ISI warned, “We will be forced to respond if you do not come up with a strategy that stops the drone strikes.” The Pakistanis are also hinting that they will look to China to replace the relationship with the U.S.
If elements of the Pakistani government sanctioned the July 13 attacks on Mumbai, then the bombings are a form of a shakedown. The U.S. and its allies are being told to stop pressuring Pakistan or suffer. It also means that the Pakistanis should be expected to reinforce their message by loosening whatever weak handcuffs they had on groups fighting NATO in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s goal would be to force the U.S. to come crawling back, as well as to exert influence through proxies.
This does not mean that the U.S. should backtrack and stop pressuring Pakistan. When CIA Deputy Director Michael J. Morell was asked to rate Pakistan’s cooperation on a 1-10 scale, he gave them a 3. That’s not worth the $2.7 billion in military assistance given to Pakistan every year. Even now, Pakistan is refusing to shut down the terrorist camps that the U.S. has pinpointed.
It is simply offensive that, after the killing of Osama Bin Laden on its territory, Pakistan is being even more duplicitous and yet still expects the money to keep flowing. The U.S. should not hesitate to eliminate terrorist camps and leaders on Pakistani soil. Our soldiers serving in Afghanistan shouldn’t have to put their lives on the line while the Pakistan-based camps and safe havens that allow the enemy to kill them remain immune from attack. The U.S. needs to defend and expand its drone campaign, and remind the Pakistanis that the only reason the drone strikes are necessary is because of their own inaction.
The Mumbai bombings are a reminder why the war on terrorism cannot focus solely on Al-Qaeda, and why the vast network of non-Al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan must be dismantled. The Pakistanis should be told that they have one final chance to take their counter-terrorism obligations seriously. If they do not, then the U.S. will do Pakistan’s job for them, and their complaints will fall on deaf ears.
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