Pakistan: America’s High-Stakes Frenemy


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On The Rachel Maddow Show last night, I shared some of my thoughts about America’s very complex relationship with Pakistan — in which that government is part friend of American interests and part enemy. Or, in other words, Pakistan is a high stakes frenemy.
Mike Allen in Playbook caught a good comment by my colleague Steve Coll, president of the New America Foundation. From Politico:

REALITY CHECK — Steve Coll, to David Gregory on “Meet the Press Midweek PRESS Pass”: Pakistan’s government and military have “leverage over the United States because of the Afghan war. They control supply lines to American soldiers in the war and they also could help the Taliban become even more of a cross-border force than they already are. So whatever the United States thinks it’s going to do to kind of recalibrate the mistrust in the relationship over the next few years, it’s going to have to move deliberately because it can’t afford an open confrontation with the Pakistani army right now.”

Coll’s statement is important to read again and understand. The US is dependent on Pakistan, in large part, but not exclusively, because of the Afghanistan War.
In my view, as long as the US defines Afghanistan as a key challenge, Pakistan will not only demand a high price from the US in terms of aid and support but will do what it can to shelter those — and keep control of some of the personalities — that we are fighting in order to control the chess pieces in the region and to keep us supplying the Pakistan military with aid and support.
— Steve Clemons


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