US must address Pakistan’s security concerns through South Asia diplomacyFebruary 22, 2009
Report by Washington-based think tank says US must acknowledge Pakistan’s security concerns have worsened after it joined hands with Washington
WASHINGTON: The United States should dedicate robust economic assistance for uplift of the Pakistani people along its Afghan border and also help resolve Pakistan’s security concerns by engaging Islamabad and New Delhi as part of a regional solution to the Afghan conflict, a new study by a Washington think tank said Tuesday.
The research released by the US Institute of Peace acknowledged that Pakistan “has legitimate security interests in its region and it has few conventional political, military, or diplomatic tools to achieve its interests”.
“Moreover, its key neighbours, India and Afghanistan, have shown resolute disinterest in accommodating Pakistan’s security concerns,” authors Christine Fair and Seth Jones point out in the study entitled “Securing Afghanistan”, which stresses solutions to a spate of problems inside Afghanistan as well as broader considerations for a realistic way forward in the insurgency-wracked country.
The two experts noted that the US and its allies had also shown little inclination to promote regional solutions that would have helped resolve Pakistan’s legitimate concerns.
Worsening: “Since joining hands with Washington, Pakistan’s security concerns have worsened rather than improved. The US and the international community should acknowledge these realities,” they added.
The two experts said Washington should encourage Pakistan for sustained efforts against Al Qaeda and the Taliban and at the same time suggested linking some US assistance to the country’s security efforts against terrorists in the border region.
“Washington needs to make a concerted effort to engage both Pakistan and India, which have competing interests in Afghanistan. Transforming regional security perceptions among the Afghans, Pakistanis, and Indians will be a monumental challenge but constitutes the only way to stabilise and secure Afghanistan so that it does not again become a terrorist sanctuary,” they wrote.
“Washington will have to step up diplomacy in South Asia, with a particular focus on promoting regional cooperation among all three countries and defusing conflict between New Delhi and Islamabad, on the one hand, and Kabul and Islamabad, on the other,” the study added.
Favouring support for economic development in the impoverished Tribal Areas, the report said currently, international reconstruction and development assistance had focused on the Afghan side of the border.
“But this strategy is a half-measure. International assistance needs to be directed toward Pakistan’s tribal areas, not just Afghanistan.” APP