Moeed Yusuf: US 'Can Still Turn Pakistan Around'
Moeed Yusuf, an Asia Society Pakistan 2020 Study Group member, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last week, part of a hearing entitled "Assessing U.S. Policy and Its Limits in Pakistan."
Yusuf, South Asia Advisor for the Center for Conflict Prevention and Analysis at the United States Institute of Peace, advocated a long-term relationship with Pakistan for the U.S., arguing that downgrading ties would be a grave error, because Pakistan's importance goes far beyond Afghanistan. You can watch the entire hearing here. And you can download his complete testimony here. You can find the conclusion of Yusuf's testimony below.
"As you can imagine, the atmosphere was quite tense given the Osama bin Laden episode less than a week before the hearing," Yusuf said. "In any case, I found the questions from the Senators constructive and engaging."
Yusuf is moderator for the May 20 Washington, D.C., launch of the Pakistan 2020 report, which focuses on the future of the country. The United States Institute of Peace is co-hosting the event. For more information about Pakistan 2020: A Vision for Building a Better Future, click here.
Here is a snippet from Yusuf's May 5 testimony:
Pakistan’s stability as a state is a critical U.S. national security interest. I will be the first one to admit that this message runs contrary to the natural impulse, especially at a time when questions continue to be raised about Pakistan’s sincerity in the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s killing inside the country.
Indeed, the relationship will continue to give ample opportunities for finger pointing; tempers will run high; and often, frustrations with Pakistan may boil over. The Pakistani leadership will also remain inefficient and U.S. aid will seldom get the short term returns that law makers desire. And yet, losing Pakistan and letting it destabilize will have systemic implications, if not for any other reason, then purely for its destructive potential: one of the largest youth bulges; extremism; terrorism; and nuclear weapons.
On the other hand, well crafted U.S. policies with a long term vision can still turn Pakistan around and help it become a moderate Muslim country with a middle‐sized economy. The silver lining is that much of the present strategic divergence of interest between the two sides is Afghanistan‐specific. Should Pakistan and the U.S. manage to work together and find a mutually acceptable negotiated settlement in Afghanistan, a sustained relationship beyond that would by definition be for Pakistan’s sake alone. The basis for Pakistani perceptions about fickleness of the U.S. partnership, transactional nature of the relationship, and even anti‐American sentiment would have disappeared. Presuming that the flow of economic and security assistance is uninterrupted throughout and that Pakistan’s democratic process has not been disrupted, the returns on U.S. investment will be greater and swifter beyond that point.