Shock Absorbers for United States, Pakistan

Relations between the United States and Pakistan are at historic lows. Pakistani officials are reviewing the bilateral relationship and threatening to halt cooperation on key security fronts. Washington leaders increasingly describe Pakistan as an adversary in the Afghanistan war and propose aid cuts, coercive diplomacy, and sanctions.

Both countries are missing one important opportunity to create new avenues for building a common understanding and sense of purpose: the power of ordinary citizens. One lesson we can learn from the last three years is that governments can only do so much – especially governments that face multiple internal pressures and a complicated bilateral history.

This article was originally published in The Boston Globe.