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Getting US-Pakistan Ties Back on Track

Mar 1, 2011
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As the Raymond Davis case drags on, “a serious and urgent review of U.S.-Pakistan relations is in order -- on both sides,” says Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow Hassan Abbas. Davis, an American, was arrested in Pakistan after he shot dead two men, and the revelation that he worked for the CIA has roiled ties.

Yet, “Pakistan needs U.S. development and military aid to face impending economic and extremist challenges, while the U.S. without Pakistan's help will be handicapped in planning its eventual pullout from Afghanistan. There is a history of a long relationship between the two states which has helped both sides in their respective geopolitical and security interests. Whenever they drifted away from each other, the consequences proved to detrimental to both states. The Raymond Davis controversy is a disaster in this context. Pakistan wants to renegotiate the privileges given to the U.S .during the Bush-Musharraf era, whereas the U.S. has become used to such access. Pakistan’s government is stuck in a very bad situation -- if it releases Davis, then Pakistanis are likely to come out on the streets and violence may erupt, increasing political instability. But if Pakistan refuses to extend diplomatic immunity to him, then U.S. aid might be effected. It’s a lose-lose situation for the Zardari-Gilani government. The future scenario from the U.S. perspective is not bright either. A middle way -- some sort of a compromise or negotiated settlement involving victims’ families and that takes into account the long-term consequences of a potential breakup of relations -- is the way forward.”

Hassan is based in New York. To arrange an interview, contact the Asia Society communications department at 212-327-9271 or [email protected].