Zakaria to dissect complex dynamics of Pakistan-US relations



Yemi Falodun | Staff Writer

Within the Middle East’s Jenga-like geopolitical structure, Pakistan remains an integral yet enigmatic piece.

“Americans often go into these situations thinking there is a very simple divide of good guys and bad guys,” Fareed Zakaria said. “And we’re always supporting the good guys.”

Zakaria, CNN host and Time magazine editor-at-large, will break down Pakistan’s evolving role and its identity at 10:45 a.m. Monday in the Amphitheater. His lecture is the first in this week’s lineup, themed “Pakistan: Straddling the Boundary Between Asia and the Middle East.”

When Americans think about Pakistan, there is a tendency to think of things on a day-to-day level.

The following questions arise: Has it reopened the supply road so that American troops can get resupplied in Afghanistan? Has the military government been more cooperative? Has the military been more cooperative? Has the civilian government become less corrupt?

“There’s a much broader, fundamental problem, which is the nature of the Pakistani state,” Zakaria said. “We usually are entering a very complex dynamic in a society in which there are internal dynamics and factions. But then there are outside forces, outside powers supporting these factions.”

Recently, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued an apology to Pakistan, hoping both nations sign an agreement that regulates the flow of NATO troop supplies in and out of Afghanistan. The pact stems from a seven-month blockade Pakistan imposed on the United States following American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.

The Pakistani position is that the U.S. is not respecting its sovereignty. The U.S. position is that the Pakistani government is, in various ways, not respecting American sovereignty, such as by attacking American soldiers and allowing terrorists to operate out of its territory.

“There is a deep anti-American sentiment in Pakistan,” Zakaria explained. “And it has endured. People say because of the drone attacks. But there’s only one problem: there was anti-Americanism in Pakistan before there were any drones. There has been anti-Americanism in Pakistan when the United States strongly supported the regime, when it did not support the regime, when there were no drone attacks, and when there are drone attacks.”

Zakaria said the U.S. government has been trying to create a relationship more about the Pakistani people than about support for the country’s government.

The Kerry-Lugar Act gives a great deal of aid — billions of dollars — to Pakistan. The money is meant to go directly to the Pakistani civil society and to strengthen that civil society, and democracy, instead of Pakistan’s military.

Many of the groups, which Pakistan has supported, have turned around and bitten the hand that fed them.

“There’s a classic Frankenstein’s monster problem,” Zakaria said. “You create forces that are so violent, venal, and uncontrollable that they eventually begin to master the regime that initially incubated them.”

There are varying perspectives on how Pakistan should handle internal terrorist groups. But one thing is for certain, Zakaria said. Those groups endanger Pakistan, any neighboring countries, and Western influences, such as the U.S.

“We are so worried about nuclear weapons in Iran, which does not have nuclear weapon,” Zakaria said. “Though Pakistan has 60 to 80, as best as we can tell, with delivery systems. With a somewhat unstable governing structure, crazy terrorist groups roaming around the country.”

Pakistan has had nuclear weapons for the last 40 years. So, if anyone had to worry about the dangers of nuclear proliferation, at any dimension, Pakistan is a much more worrying prospect than Iran.

“Right now, we are in a sense hostage, because we need them for Afghanistan,” Zakaria said about the United States relationship with Pakistan.

“We need them, because we have taken on this vast nation building project in Afghanistan, with a hundred thousand troops out there. And for the security of the troops and the success of these projects, and for the credibility of the United States, we cannot afford to have a rupture.”

But Fareed Zakaria hopes the United States’ reliance on Pakistan changes, which would limit Pakistan’s leverage.

“I think it fundamentally helps the United States to be able to be more nimble and less dependant on some of these regional countries,” he said.