December 4th, 2011
01:04 PM ET

Zakaria: Pakistan – friends without benefits

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

You wouldn't have thought anti-Americanism in Pakistan could get any worse, but last week NATO attacked a Pakistani army post, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Even before this episode, for which NATO expressed deep regret, it would be difficult to find a country on the planet that was more anti-American than Pakistan. In a Pew survey this year, only 12% of Pakistanis expressed a favorable view of the United States. Populist rage and official duplicity have built up even though Washington has lavished Islamabad with aid totaling $20 billion over the last decade.

I think it's time to recognize that the America’s Pakistan policy is just not working. I write this as someone who has consistently supported engaging with the Pakistani government as the best of bad options. But the evidence that this engagement is working is thin - and gets thinner with every passing month.

Supporting Islamabad has been premised on two arguments. The first is that if we don’t, the Pakistani government could collapse and the country’s nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands, perhaps even ending up with al Qaeda. This misunderstands the problem. Pakistan is not Somalia. It has been ruled by a professional military for most of its independent existence, even when there has been a nominally civilian government in charge - as there is today. There have been no Gaddafiesque colonels’ coups in Pakistan; instead, the entire military, with its command chain intact, has moved to replace the civilian government. The military remains widely admired as a national institution that works.

The second argument is the one given by businesses when they pay off the Mafia: ‘We need to keep these guys as allies, or else they will become enemies.’ The problem with this protection racket is that it isn’t working. Admiral Mike Mullen finally said publicly what insiders have said privately for years: Pakistan’s army, despite getting over a quarter of its budget from Washington, funds and arms the most deadly terrorist group in South Asia.

Pakistan's military needs to stop playing games to keep Afghanistan weak and India off balance. It needs to start trying to create peace, stability and prosperity for its people. In other words, Pakistan needs a civilian conception of its national interest. And it can only get that from a flourishing civilian government.

There lies a fundamental tension in U.S. policy toward Pakistan. We want a more democratic country, but we also want a government that can deliver anti-terrorism cooperation on the ground. In practice, we always choose the latter, which means we cozy up to the military and overlook its destruction of democracy.

But the only way to get real cooperation is by helping Pakistan move from being a military state to a more normal country. If Washington continues to bolster Pakistan's de-facto military dictatorship, we will get a dysfunctional nation where the public - fed propaganda by the military establishment - continues to vent its anger at Washington.

The Arab Spring holds key lessons. When Washington props up a dictatorship because it needs foreign policy support, it is building up wellsprings of poison and anti-Americanism within society that, one day, will erupt.

Read more on this in my essay in TIME Magazine. For more of my thoughts throughout the week, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and to visit the Global Public Square every day.


soundoff (351 Responses)
  1. romka 155

    There is lots to say about Pakistan Government and Al Qaeda ,by me never believe in the Pakistan Government .They are all same rotten fruit , the same ( Heine ) group ,all false people.

    December 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  2. Kate Almona

    Islamabad is the proverbial "Young Bride" with numerous suitors at her feet. For all this new bride cares she could dispose of any suitor when it suits her. Pakistan could in the least be bothered if She turns her back agianst the United States of America. She has a choice to join the BRICS countries consisting of Brazil, Russia, india, Cuba and South Africa. This Young bride" is being hesitant with respect to the BRICS Group because of the membership of India her immedaite neighbour whom she will not love to share anything with.

    December 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  3. alidonfong

    american are paying 400 US $ for 12 letters of oil in afghanistan due to blockage of supply line from pakistan....

    December 7, 2011 at 7:50 am | Reply
  4. alidonfong

    Here is short summary of what Pakistan did for USA.
    1) Choose US over Russia as Ally since the creation of Pakistan.
    2) Pakistan Join CENTO (Alliance again Russia), just to please USA
    3) Pakistan did not took part directly in Arab-Israel wars, again just to please USA
    4) Pakistan lost half of the country (Pakistan was at fault) and did not get any direct military support from USA and at they end they had to raise white flag and accept defeat.
    5) In 1980’s after Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan Pakistan was brainwashed by USA that Russia is going to invade there land, USA provided full military and some what financial support to Pakistan to train Mujahidin’s against Red Army in Afghanistan, at the end Red Army left and its economy collapsed, USSR was also broken into several countries, it is not wrong to say that former soviet Union was defeated by Mujahidin’s and the won the war for USA.
    6) Pakistan is home to millions of Afghan refugees due to ongoing wars in Afghanistan in which USA is directly or in directly involved. Afghan refuges also brought drugs and weapons which resulted in thousand’s of death in Pakistan.
    7) After 9/11 Pakistan shook hands with USA again to eliminate al-Qaida and Taleban from Afghanistan, the outcome of this is 30,000 thousand deaths in Pakistan and loss of 60 billon $.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:39 am | Reply
  5. jf-17 thunder

    Fareed zakaria is an intelegence agent implanted in US media' deport him ' wake up america wake up' these indians have plaqued your economy. now poisoning your brains against your cold war time friends unlike indians who were pro USSR all time. wake up .. fareed is imposter.

    December 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Reply
  6. jalal

    we broke USSR,we will contol Afgahistan & America will be made to pay the bill by bleeding every day for every pakistani killed.India will be dealt when we are not busy elsewhere.
    Just imagine us coming at YOU........one day

    December 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  7. sickofislam

    Jalal,
    You are what I would refer to as "sheeple" believe what your told without question.....I'm tired of America being viewed or treated as the cause of "Islam" woes....fix your own religion or deal with the aftermath....our country and people are (without question which can be statistically proven) the most giving people in our world's history! If America were the GREAT DEVIL which your religious leaders claim....you wouldn't be on this planet to read this message because make no mistake America has the ability to wipe any country off the planet....but we don't...can you say nations of your religion can show the same restraint...?

    December 7, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Reply
    • johnny

      I think there is a syndrome that has affected certain religious races.. Even though I respect all religions and even follow certain ones for their good teachings of love and forgiveness, my view is when people who are 'super indulging' in their religion, their religious sensitiveness becomes a problem to others who are more tolerant and who prefer living peacefully with everyone, irregardless of their beliefs.

      Like I always say, since there is not even one single solid evident of an afterlife, thousands of years have passed and still no one has any proof or gone there and come back to talk about it – lets not discuss about any religion. To each his own.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  8. Farhan Zaheer

    America has always supported military regimes in Asia. It is US that fought Afghan war and created Taliban with the help of ISI. I dont understand why Zikaria not blame US policies for the current state of affairs in Pakistan today. Ok i understand Pak army is also a big player but who fed this army to hang Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto -the most popular civilian leader of Pak history. Who supported Musharraf when he was crushing the party and goverment of Nawaz Sharif in 1999? Corporate media in Pakistan and US cannot all the peoples all the time.

    The educated people in Pak rightly point fingers to US for misusing its army against Iran and India. So i would ask Mr Zikaria to balance his point of views on Pakistan and try to help the poor masses of this country who have always been robbed of their basics rights. Sometimes, by US and sometimes by its army and politicians.

    December 8, 2011 at 9:57 am | Reply
  9. Sohaib

    Pakistan has a democratic govt and free media & judiciary, therefore, cannot be termed as military state as asserted by Mr Farid Zakria

    December 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  10. Sohaib

    Pakistan has better hunger and shelter index than India
    Pakistan has better ease of doing business index than India as we are less corrupt than Indians
    Pakistan has the largest voluntary ambulance service in the world
    Pakistan is the 7th nuclear power, with an excellent record of nuclear safety (remember Chernobel and Bhopal)
    Pakistanis are mature that in 1987 they saw Pakistani Cricket team loosing a semifinal of world cup and absorbed it. 10 years later Indian crowd could not do the same and started throwing stones, match had to be stopped
    Pakistan has a strong army
    Pakistan has independent judiciary, media and democracy
    Pakistan has 2nd largest coal reserves in the world.
    By 2014 Inshallah Pakistan will rise in the world as a developing country
    Dont loose hope, serve the country with pride. Long Live Pakistan

    December 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  11. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Dear Mr. Zakaria:

    Once again you sum up well in line with your agenda. Keep on looting the hard pressed American tax payers to help the ungrateful Pakistani people.

    BTW, here's a response I wrote today that fits in well here:

    It's Pakistani power politics in full play.

    As Gen. Musharaff and even several Taliban leaders have themselves openly claimed, the Taliban cannot lift even their little finger w/o the Pakistani military's nod! Given that fact, this killing is nothing surprising. The Pakistani military and ISI, and in turn the Pakistani govt view such killings ONLY AS COLLATERAL DAMAGE (calling them Martyrs) in their quest to keep the war going. To that end they have systematically eliminated anyone intent on making peace with the US and the Karzai regime.

    Why do they do it? To keep the US and Western aid flowing, and to bring America on its knees by continuing to bleed us, just as they are doing with India by locking up half a million Indian soldiers by pushing in a mere couple of thousand die-hard, well trained, religiously motivated Islamic guerilla fighters. As we know most of the aid so GLEENED goes straight into the Pakistani military coffers, while pretending that they are themselves victims of terror. That also serves as a cover to quietly add to their nuclear stockpile, convinced that the US will YET AGAIN turn a blind eye in view of the Pakistani partnership in the war on terror.

    All this has one laser focused goal – of carrying forward the Saudi inspired, Pakistani delivered goal of exporting Islamic Jihad to the west, bring the west, Israel & India on its knees and eventual Islamization of the entire world.
    Many people incl. CNN's own rabidly anti-Semite, America/India/West hating Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA are overtly & covertly working to ensure just that, while outwardly pretending to be American patriots and ONLY NOTIONALLY condemning radical Islam to hoodwink gullible & naive Americans.

    Unless America, Europe (b4 it's completely lost), India and Israel join hands to tame this Islamic demon once & for all, our demise as free, secular, democratic nations is definite........if not in the coming years/decades......may be even if it were to take a century!

    If only we look at the examples of how predominantly Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish lands have fallen into the Islamist's lap with all traces of their non-Islamic past totally erased, to what is currently underway in Europe, India, Israel and also right here in America, nobody can call them mere doomsday prophecies!!! When we do realize that they indeed were true…….it may be just too late!!!!

    GOD BLESS AMERICA.....GOD BLESS INDIA......GOD BLESS ISRAEL.

    Amit-Atlanta-USA

    January 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  12. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    To those of you who think Mr. Zakaria is anti-Pakistani, I say this "he surely is NOT". He does fine tune his stories depending on which way the wind is blowing (!!) sometimes being critical of the Pakistani military and sometimes saying they are doing the right thing by protecting their soverignity........ even while hiding criminals.

    But, plz. remember he's 100% pro-Muslim that includes support of the Pakistani people, Kashmiri Islamists, and ofcourse Indian Muslims whom he conisders to be discriminated against by the Hindu majority India.

    Don't get him wrong please!

    January 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  13. ;;;;;;MUSLIMS ARE EVIL AND SHIIA ISLAM TAKE THE CAKE

    ;;;;;;MUSLIMS ARE EVIL AND SHIIA ISLAM TAKE THE CAKE

    MUSLIMS ARE EVIL LIKE KILLING...................MUBARAK ORDER TO SHOOT THOSE THUGS WHO RA.....PE CIVILIANS AND STOLE THE STORES ....SAME AS THE EVIL MUSLIMS IN LIBYA WHO KILLED RA..........PED AND TORTURED THE LEADER THEN ASK THE PEOPLE TO TAKE PICTURES FOR HIS DEAD BODY!! THEN BARY HIM IN SECRET !? IS THIS IS ISLAM ? WHERE IS THE DIGNITY OF HUMAN BEEN YOU EVIL, SO SHAME USA ARE HELPING THOSE EVIL

    January 6, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Reply
  14. facts

    IRAN IS HELPING THE TERRORIST ORGANIZATION HEZBOLLAH WHICH 100 TIME WORSE THAN AL QAEDA, IRAN THUGS ARE HELPING SYRIA MINORITY GOVERNMENT WITH MONEY AND WEAPONS M IRAN PAY RUSSIA THE MONEY AND RUSSIAN EVIL EMPIRE BRINGING THE WEAPONS TO SYRIAN SEA PORT,,,,IRAN HELPING IRAQI SHIIA THUGS TO KILL CHRISTEAN'S AND OTHERS, THEY ALSO DESTROYING LEBANON BAHRAIN YEMEN AND HAMAS.....THEY ARE EVIL CULT
    , WORSE THAN HITLER..WE MUST ACT NOW, RON PAUL IS THE VILLAGE IDIOT IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY NO BETTER THAN THIS HALF MUSLIM PRESIDENT ( OBAMA), IRAN DO HAVE WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION AND WHEN THEY HAVE WORSE THEY WILL USE IT THEY ALREADY MENTIONED THAT ON TV AND IN THE UN GO READ AHMEDI NEJAD SPEECH IN THE UN..... NOW IRAN HELPING CHINA AND THE COMMUNIST VENEZUELA REGIMES...AND EVEN EXPANDING TO AFRICA OPENING SAFE HOUSES UNDER PRAYERS PLACES CALLED HUSAYNIA..!!!THOSE EVIL WILL NEVER STOP UNTIL THEY DESTROY EVERY GOOD IN THIS EARTH......EVIL CAN SMILE AND LIE EVIL CAN SHOW YOU HE IS GOOD...DONT BE FOOL. WORLD PEACE , IRAN DONT HAVE PEACE IN THEIR DICTIONARY.

    January 15, 2012 at 2:33 am | Reply
  15. SYRIAN THUGS BASHAR AL KALB KILLED 900 ALREADY WHERE ARE YOU USA UK FRANCE UN!?

    موقف روسيا والصين هو موقف الغرب كذلك اتجاه الشعب السورى الذى يبذذ من مجرم صهيونى ويحرق من حكمهم وهذا كله امام انظار العالم وهدفهم ان لا تنتصر ثورة السوريين ولا اى ثورة عربية والحمد الشعب غير المواقف بيده وما اسعد واجمل من شعب واعى بحقوقه ويكتشف اعدائه كل يوم وصامد واقف بوجههم جميعا فوحده الشعب السورى من يغير ليس الا مواقف العالم اتجاهه بل يحل ما حل به بداخلهم ليست روسيا ولا الصين بمناى عن ما يحدث بشعوبنا لا بعيدة عن ثورة الشعب حتى بامريكا نفسها والنصر لثورتنا العربية والنصر للشعب

    January 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  16. Sohaib

    Its bad that terrible comments from Indians have been removed by admin. Those had shown the real face of Indians

    March 4, 2012 at 11:55 am | Reply
  17. Proud Pakistani

    Pakistanis pretend as Indians .Wow what a joke.We lost hundred of thousands of Muslims at the time of the creation of Pakistan ,why would we pretend to be Indian.are you nuts.
    We are good as Pakistanis , living in US for last 20 years and never felt anything like Indians , my parents left India and came to Pakistan , because they loved Pakistan.As a Muslim we love our ideology then the piece of land.There is nothing that really makes me pretend to be an Indian.Ihave no disrespect for Indians but I feel proud to be a Pakistani.
    And please stop using stop using your fake Muslim name. This disgraces a lot of Muslims who have a great love and respect for Pakistan.

    December 6, 2011 at 11:35 am | Reply
  18. BK

    saba Please increase your knowledge base. You are talking nonsense, dont make a joke of yourself

    December 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  19. Deepak

    Why is truth hard to digest?///////

    December 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  20. Wasif Morad

    Dear Saba,

    I guess you are defined in the same category as Fareed; reading from your articulate expression of your hatred for All things Pakistani and Muslim?

    December 7, 2011 at 7:01 am | Reply
  21. Sohaib

    @Saba: who teained LTTE and caused 80,000 deaths and 300,000 injured in Sri Lanka? answer India

    December 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  22. Sohaib

    Do you need reference that proves Indians trained LTTE in India, then sponsored them throughout the civil war? Rajiv Gandhi episode was the result of Indian policies. Do you need reference? Do you need proof? You just need to read a bit more, you will find out the facts

    December 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  23. Sohaib

    You just show your own self once you comment on blog. You are just showing you could not be brought up well by your teachers, thus lack the decency of participating in blogs. This is the real face of shining India.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  24. jf-17 thunder

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fareed_Zakaria

    one has to really see profile of fareed and establish that he is a true indian intelegnec agent implanted in US media very carefully and great planning and its an investment what indian government has done in US media' thats the reason he has been given award by indian government also.
    As he has coughed so much of anger hatered in US society against pakistan which indian government could not have done their self, he is biased' anti muslims' anti pakistan' hypocrate and imposter nothing else.

    December 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Reply
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