The U.S. and South Asia After Afghanistan

The United States and South Asia After Afghanistan argues that a unique opportunity exists for the Obama administration to forge a more strategic, integrated, and successful policy toward South Asia. Written by Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow Alexander Evans and published in December 2012, the report offers new ideas on how to integrate competing U.S. interests in South Asia, encourage stronger interagency collaboration across the East Asia-South Asia divide, and expand expertise on South Asia in the U.S. government.

According to the report, the U.S. can best position itself for success after the 2014 military drawdown in Afghanistan by taking a fresh approach to South Asia. This approach, the report argues, should consider each South Asian country on its own merits and avoid hyphenated “Indo-Pak,” “Af-Pak,” or “China-India” policies; evaluate economic, security, and political issues in regional terms; connect South Asia to an overall Asia strategy; and integrate diplomatic, defense, and development policy agendas.

The report also offers seven specific recommendations for the U.S. administration to bolster processes needed to create longer-term, strategic South Asia policy:

  1. Improve the capacity for U.S. strategy toward South Asia
  2. Better connect East Asia and South Asia policy, both through cross-postings and by establishing a mechanism for cross-bureau Asia policy
  3. Continue to bet on India, while managing expectations
  4. Develop a realistic, medium-term Pakistan strategy
  5. Better integrate counterterrorism and regional policy through cross-posting officials between the two areas
  6. Establish a formal “South Asia cadre” of foreign service officers
  7. Create a South Asia–specific Presidential Management Fellowship

The United States and South Asia After Afghanistan benefits from the expertise of the Asia Society Advisory Group on U.S. Policy toward South Asia and draws on more than 90 interviews with a range of current and former U.S. policy practitioners from the State Department, National Security Council, and Congress.