A Dangerous Disconnect in US-Pakistan Relations

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier stands guard in front of burning NATO supplies oil tankers following a gunmen attack in Quetta on October 6, 2010. (Banaras Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan "lacks depth" and is characterized by suspicion and mistrust on both sides despite an an alliance formed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Afghanistan is a key point of difference, says Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow Hassan Abbas.  "The contested history of bilateral relations, global politics and the varying nature of security interests are at the root cause of this disconnect. For the Obama administration, success in Afghanistan has become a political need in addition to a critical security imperative - but for Pakistan, regional rivalry with India is the dominant concern. For the US, there are no good options except continued engagement and more emphasis on the development side of things."

Asia Society Associate Fellow Ayesha Haroon notes that domestic news coverage has shifted from the flash floods in August to other issues, despite the continued suffering and displacement of millions of Pakistanis.

"How well is the government managing the rehabilitation efforts, where are the international funds being spent, why are international agencies hesitant to discuss their spending with Islamabad, what of the rumors that certain top officials of an international agency were removed...these are some of the stories that no longer make up the media headlines, even as concerned citizens and civil society are continuing with their individual efforts to help their fellow human beings rebuild lives of dignity and hope."