The Bush administration's focus on military solutions against
extremists in Pakistan has analysts concerned that the US is
persisting in a failed policy with a critical ally at a time when
changing circumstances in the region - including a newly elected
government in Pakistan and heightened conflict in Afghanistan -
demand a strategy shift.
Last week, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte called on
Pakistan to drive extremism from its tribal areas, saying "we will
not be satisfied" until all militant activity is under control. Mr.
Negroponte, speaking in Washington, stressed the importance of
maintaining a strong relationship between the two countries.
But critics say his remarks show the US stance toward Pakistan is
not changing quickly enough to factor in the weakening of longtime
ally President Pervez Musharraf and the emergence of a
democratically elected government.
Recent events reflect increased dissension between the two
countries since the new government took over earlier this year.
Pakistan has signaled it will negotiate with militants in a bid
to calm the restive border region, a move Washington opposes. It has
also frowned upon the US military's appointment of a senior American
officer, Maj. Gen. Jay Hood, as military envoy to Islamabad.
"There is growing consensus that ... the war on terrorism must be
maintained for the good of Pakistan," said Tariq Fatemi, a retired
member of the Pakistani Foreign Service, speaking in Washington on
Tuesday. "But the methodology which is to be used ... has to be
There is widespread pressure in the US for Pakistan to use
military options to address increased activity by extremist elements
in the border region, including Al Qaeda and the Taliban, thought
responsible for much of the rise in violence in neighboring
But experts like Mr. Fatemi want to see the US focus more on
political and economic efforts and less on military options.
The US may also need to wean itself from its ties to Gen. Pervez
Musharraf, who may not survive the political transition to the new
government. That would be the real test of a new American approach
to Pakistan, according to Frederic Grare, a visiting scholar with
the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
The US military withdrew the appointment of General Hood after
heavy criticism in the Pakistani media of his former role overseeing
suspected war-on-terror detainees at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba. US Central Command in Florida pulled Hood's name two
weeks ago, saying Friday that he was being reassigned for a "job of
"We consider it a very, very important position and building and
maintaining a relationship with not only the government but the
military," says Capt. …