The Pakistani American Leadership Center (PAL-C) strives to
represent the views of the Pakistani American community on
issues of concern both domestically and internationally and to
provide policy solutions to address those issues. We are
constantly engaging the stakeholders and providing them with
access and representation to the decision-makers so the voice
the Pakistani American community is heard. It is an ongoing
process of education, grassroots organizing, political advocacy
and public diplomacy. We hope you join PAL-C and
contribute, so we can carry our mission forward and ensure that Pakistani Americans have a seat at the table
Please see our Op-Ed in The Huffington Post below
Executive Director of the Pakistani American Leadership
Posted May 1, 2009 | 06:21 PM (EST)
Capacity Not Resentment in Pakistan
Over the past few months an extraordinarily worrisome pattern
in U.S.-Pakistan relations has emerged: one in which the Taliban
make advances, senior U.S. officials raise the alarm and demand
action from Pakistan, subsequent action is taken and U.S.
officials offer faint praise and maintain that Pakistan is still
not doing enough.
By reinforcing the appearance of a causal relationship
between U.S. demands and Pakistani action, this very public
approach heavily undermines U.S. national security by cementing
the perception among Pakistanis that this is not in fact their
war but one in which Pakistan is being coerced into fighting
through U.S. threats and economic manipulation.
Winning the support of the Pakistani public is the most
critical element of the U.S. strategy in defeating the Taliban
and their allies. Conditional language like that in the House
PEACE Act of 2009 is counterproductive to winning the hearts and
minds of the Pakistani people as it merely reinforces the type
of transactional relationship that we are trying to replace with
one that is a long lasting partnership. While Congress and the
Administration must continue to press Pakistan for action (and
provide Pakistan the commensurate resources to do so) they must
do so privately, behind closed doors and recognize the need to
give Pakistan the space to create an indigenous strategy for
dealing with the Taliban and its affiliates and the time to
enact that strategy and communicate it to their public.
The upcoming visit of President Zardari provides an opportune
moment for the U.S to do exactly that: privately communicate our
legitimate concerns and demand that Pakistan independently
produce and communicate a comprehensive counterinsurgency
strategy of their own making.
The U.S. won't always agree with that strategy such as the
peace deal in Swat, but viewed from the Pakistani perspective,
there is high value in demonstrating an attempt at dialogue and
reconciliation before taking military action that often results
in high levels of collateral damage. Not only does this provide
the government of Pakistan with political cover but it clearly
paints the Taliban as aggressors against the Pakistani state.
Already we have seen the formation of tribal lashkars and
grassroots military opposition to the Taliban in the affected
areas (though they have been largely unsupported by the
Pakistani Army and therefore unsuccessful) and growing civil
society protests against the Taliban in Pakistan's major cities
such as the one most recently in Lahore. Pakistan's current
leadership must step up and support these efforts or risk losing
not only their seat in government but also large swaths of the
country to the Taliban.
of drones by the U.S. military has two components: one, U.S.
drone attacks are seen as a violation of Pakistan
sovereignty and two, they cause significant collateral damage.
For these two reasons, drone attacks literally serve as
recruitment drives for the Taliban. The U.S. must recognize that
while drone attacks may be effective in eliminating high-value
targets and are therefore effective as a tactic they undermine
the larger U.S. strategy of winning Pakistani hearts and
Bruce Reidel who chaired the Administration's interagency review
described the drone attacks as akin to "trying to kill
ants one at a time."
Where the U.S. can make progress is in building a long-term
relationship with the people of Pakistan by targeting our
assistance to those areas most crucial to winning their support
including enhancing and strengthening Pakistan's judicial system
and law enforcement, creating broad-based and sustainable
economic development with an emphasis on increasing local
capacity, support for the public education system, refugees and
internally displaced persons, and support for healthcare and
public diplomacy. U.S. military assistance must target those
areas most vital to the counterinsurgency campaign including
helicopters, night vision equipment, and counter-IED equipment.
The Obama Administration has recognized that this is the way
forward and has urged Congress to pass three bills aimed at
achieving these objectives: a bill co-sponsored by Senators
Kerry and Lugar that authorizes $1.5 billion in direct economic
support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five
years, a bill that creates economic opportunity zones in the
border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the Pakistan
Counterinsurgency Capability Fund which will provide resources
to transform Pakistan's army into a more effective
Congress must pass these bills immediately, knowing that
while it waits and debates, the Taliban does not.
Taha Gaya is the Executive Director of the
Pakistani American Leadership Center (PAL-C).