The cancellation of the August 23-24 meeting of the national security advisors of India and Pakistan follows a pattern of unrealistic expectations raised and then quickly dashed. This is compounded by Pakistan’s long history of denial on numerous issues. It may be time for both countries to abjure high-profile diplomacy and turn to small confidence-building measures.
Pakistan’s refusal to re-open NATO supply routes into Afghanistan has made the country an instant pariah in the U.S. at the NATO Summit. The communiqué released confirms a withdrawal of 130,000 troops by as early as mid-2013. Can the remaining soldiers help maintain peace when a force much larger could not?
Even ardent supporters of Pakistan are unable to explain to Washington, and indeed the rest of the world, how Osama Bin Laden lived in a mansion with the Pakistani military and ISI as his neighbours. The implications on US-Pak relations are likely to be heavy.
Pakistan is unlikely to collapse anytime soon, but the imbalance of power between its civilian and military branches needs to be addressed if it is to become an effective modern state. Washington must stop coddling Pakistan’s military and instead work patiently to support the country’s civilian authorities.