The Missing Piece in the Pakistan Puzzle

This week’s round of trilateral talks between the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan in Washington offers an important opportunity for the Obama administration to address the weakest link in its “Af-Pak” strategy—the deteriorating situation in Pakistan. Just back from my most recent visit to Pakistan last week, I don’t share the rather alarmist and pessimistic views dominating U.S. news coverage and political debates on Pakistan.

Yes, the situation is very serious and not improving, and some grave risks to U.S. security lurk in Pakistan. But most of Pakistan, a country of 170 million people, has not fallen into anarchy. The Taliban are a fringe minority isolated in small pockets of the country, and Pakistanis in recent weeks have turned against extremist Islamists. It is a country with millions of ordinary middle class citizens working in universities, banks and law offices who strive for the same things we want—stability and prosperity. With the right approach, a strategic framework agreement, the United States can more effectively address Pakistan’s multiple security, political and economic challenges. It has no other option but to work to develop stronger partnerships in Pakistan.

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