JAN 15 – Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) hosted an off-the-record round table discussion to explore current issues surrounding the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. This uneasy alliance has caused consternation among Capitol Hill and executive branch policymakers over the years as actions by the Pakistani government often conflict with U.S. priorities. There are, however, many shared challenges that experts insist can only be overcome through cooperation between our countries. Countering Taliban forces, protecting nuclear materials and facilities, and preventing war between India and Pakistan are just a few such challenges. As the recent Taliban-led attack on Pakistani school children on December 16th painfully demonstrates, security threats and the need for U.S.-Pakistan cooperation continue.
Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Director, South Asia Programs, United States Institute of Peace (Read Dr. Yusuf’s recent article on the Pakistani Army chief’s visit to the U.S.)
Shuja Nawaz, former Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council (Listen to Mr. Nawaz’s recent discussion of the Peshawar school attack on the Diane Rehm Show.)
Dr. Stephen P. Cohen, Senior Fellow, The India Project, Brookings Institution
Many experts suggest that Pakistan – as a nuclear weapon state located in a volatile region – is an essential, if difficult, partner for the U.S. in efforts to counter extremist forces and secure nuclear materials across the world. At a meeting of the U.S.-Pakistan Defense Consultative Group in early December 2014, the two countries agreed that strong bilateral defense cooperation is integral to cultivating peace and security in Pakistan’s neighborhood. The U.S. commitment to defense cooperation was most recently expressed by Congress’s approval of nearly $1 billion in military aid to Pakistan in 2015. However, $300 million is contingent upon Pakistan’s continued efforts against the Haqqani network and militant safe havens in North Waziristan. The initial House version of the 2015 NDAA called on Pakistan to immediately release Dr. Shakil Afridi, the doctor who aided the May 2011 operation against Osama Bin Laden. While this reference was eventually removed from the NDAA, it illustrates the continued uneasy relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. Going forward, the U.S. faces the challenge of how to responsibly engage with Pakistan in consideration of shared interests and bilateral tensions.
This was the 18th event in the USIP/PSA Congressional Briefing Series – Topics on International Conflict Resolution and Prevention, an educational program designed to provide congressional staff with opportunities to engage leading experts and fellow Capitol Hill staffers in bipartisan forums. The program aims to build cross-party relationships, encourage bipartisan dialogue, and equip staff with new perspectives on critical issues in the international conflict resolution and prevention field.