With America’s military effort in Central Asia large and growing, one of its largest diplomatic efforts is centered around convince key ally Pakistan to escalate its own war more and more.
But though the US and Pakistani governments seem destined to be allies in the endless war against assorted militant factions, they have very different ideas about how this war should be fought.
Both support Taliban negotiations, but while the US and other Western powers seek to bring the low ranking militants on board to undermine the power of the leadership, Pakistan wants them to negotiate with the Taliban’s leadership to end the disastrous war on their northern border.
That border is at issue too. Pakistan’s government has had to pull its troops increasingly away from the northern border to shore up its defenses along the Indian border, and to fight all the wars the US has pressured them into. At the same time, the US strategy has them pulling their troops off the border too and focusing on controlling population centers. Both like their strategies, but are irked that the other side is leaving the border so shoddily patrolled.
US officials have sought to downplay their differences of opinion, but increasingly it is spilling over into Pakistani public dialogue in the form of growing distrust of the US and its goals. It is not lost on them that they were largely able to ignore discontent in their tribal areas and focus on their long-standing feud with India before the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan, which has put much of Pakistan into a state of civil war.
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