December 7th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

NATO strike will bolster Pakistani Army

Editor’s Note: This is an edited version of an article from the ‘Oxford Analytica Daily Brief’. Oxford Analytica is a global analysis and advisory firm that draws on a worldwide network of experts to advise its clients on their strategy and performance.

Relations between Pakistan and the United States reached a new low after the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26 in a NATO strike. As in the case of the Abbottabad operation that led to the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the incident has raised questions about the failure of Pakistan's military to resist attacks, and the pro-Washington orientation of the government. However, the immediate consequences of growing domestic anger seem more severe for President Asif Ali Zardari, his administration and U.S.-Pakistan ties than for the Pakistan Army.

To appease public opinion, Islamabad has announced a review of its cooperation with the United States, and boycotted this week's Bonn Conference on Afghanistan. However, this posturing is not without risks: troubled relations with Washington will undermine the stagnant Pakistani economy and fuel anxiety in Islamabad that it may be excluded from talks on Afghanistan's future.

By comparison to the government, public criticism of the military, by far the strongest state institution in the country, has been muted. Nonetheless, pressure to project military power and the desire to preserve territorial integrity has led to - and will continue result in - heightened security measures along Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

In the near term, the closure of two supply routes - through Torkham in the tribal belt and Chaman in Baluchistan - to Afghanistan will prove problematic for NATO strategy. At their peak, 500 lorries carried fuel and other goods daily from Karachi port to Afghanistan, a number that declined to 200-300 in recent months. Since border closures for two months would reduce the pace of military operations in Afghanistan, the U.S. administration would not wait longer than a month to threaten aid cuts to urge at least their partial reopening.

Eventually, Pakistan's dependence on U.S. aid and Washington's need for Pakistani support in the Afghan campaign will restore bilateral ties. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has already signalled the government's desire for eventual rapprochement and need for political cover, but the administration will fear domestic repercussions of too speedy a reconciliation with Washington.

In the medium-to-longer term, the impact of the NATO strike will be felt most acutely in the domestic sphere. Islamabad has felt sufficiently weakened to rule out the threat of a 'judicial' or 'military' coup publicly, and, with an eye on forthcoming elections, the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has indicated it may withdraw from various levels of political participation. Some other opposition parties and militant groups are aiming to capitalise on wounded nationalism by associating themselves with the Army.

Although this will enhance the Army’s domestic credibility and authority, younger and more religiously minded officers will likely question the value of the U.S. alliance and be more sensitive to criticism of the military as a mercenary force that follows other countries' instructions for financial considerations. This may intensify ties between hardline political and religious forces and younger officers, and possibly drive a wedge between senior and junior ranks.

The structural incentives bringing the pendulum of relations between Islamabad and Washington back to equilibrium are strong. However, many levels of Pakistan's political system will need to express indignation before rapprochement with Washington is possible. A key question is how they will change in 2014, when Pakistan's centrality in the Afghan campaign declines. Public anger in both countries may well erode U.S.-Pakistan ties.

For samples of the Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, click here.

Topics: Analysis • Pakistan

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    The Pakistani Army has an iron grip on the country. So much so that Asif Ari Zardari was alleged to have asked the then ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani to approach Admiral Mike Mullen for help – to weaken the Army's capabilities. Zardari's heart problem was a timely excuse to leave the country. By doing so, he dodges an unpleasant enquiry. The army wouldn't want anybody to probe into their clandestine business and decided whether the foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar should attend the Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn last week, or whether to resume military coopeation with the ISAF.

    December 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Reply
    • Insaaf

      WHY IS AMERICA GIVING EVEN A DIME TO PAKISTAN ( AN ENEMY, NEVER AN ALLY )

      Can any country shelter Bin Laden for 5 years near IT'S military academy, ONLY PAKISTAN

      Can any country proliferate Nuclear weapon technology to Iran , North Korea and Libya, ONLY PAKISTAN

      Can any country support HAQQANI Network so that it kills US Troops as they come home in BODYBAGS, Only
      Pakistan

      Can any country have its overseas citizens plan the TIME SQUARE bomb plot, ONLY PAKISTAN

      Can any country orchestrate the MUMBAI attacks on India , ONLY PAKISTAN

      Can any country nurture the TALIBAN TO KILL it's own people ( ALI MENTIONED Pakistani civialn deaths ) , ONLY Pakistan

      Can any country take 20 billion dollar aid and use it against India as opposed to feed its people, ONLY Pakistan

      Can any country attack the Taliban negotiator,destabilize Afganistan by training Afghan Taliban as a strategic weapon, ONLY Pakistan

      Can any country's citizen ( Khalid sheikh Mohammed) Pitch ideas to Bin Laden on flying planed into building on Sept 11, Only Pakistan

      Can any country's citizen ( David headley alais Dawood Gilani ) act as scout for the Mumbai Attacks , Only Pakistan

      Fareed Zakaria says that Pakistan is a Frankenstein's monster breeding Islamic Terrorism..... :(

      December 13, 2011 at 2:39 am | Reply
      • Yarely

        hiu write this story but hw could we find itadn i m new user of this site plz ifonrm me more about it

        February 9, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  2. Asif

    Whoever wrote this article is working with historic information. The ground realities have changed. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is no longer the "main" opposition party. It has lost all public support for being a friendly opposition for the last 3.5 years. People of Pakistan are no longer supporting it.

    December 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  3. krm1007

    BODDA BING BODDA BOOM

    We are Hindus from India,
    And we like to put on the Bindiya,
    We are mostly Haris,
    But we like to put on the Saris,
    Sadly, we are nothing but Bhikaris,
    Sadly, we are nothing but Bhikaris,
    We take the Americans to Heart,
    But get nothing in return except a F@rt,
    So we tend to kiss the American @ss,
    Again, we get nothing in return except the American gas

    December 7, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  4. Onesmallvoice

    What Pakistan sorely needs to do is to rid itself of it's dangerous dependence on U.S. foreign aid and chart it's own policies.

    December 7, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  5. krm1007

    Well put, Onesmallvoice and so very true, too.

    December 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  6. alidonfong

    Can any indian get me a fresh glass of cow urine, please?

    December 9, 2011 at 3:32 am | Reply
  7. 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 9, 2011 at 3:33 am | Reply
  8. alidonfong

    The conclusion is ‘Might is Right’, poor (finically and mentally) will always suffer and the Might will always take full benefit of
    Pakistan is spending far less on Army than India , USA and china. Why dont you bother about them? Leave Pakistan, we will take care of our problems. By the way we have a better hunger and shelter index than " the biggest failed state India" You have doubts check it up

    PAKISTAN.....The
    New Gateway to Central Asia and Europe.

    With a
    population of over 180 million most of whom are well educated, english
    speaking, entrepreneurial, a cultural and social fit with Central
    Asians...Pakistan will now become the new face and gateway to Central Asia and
    Europe. Pakistan will thus span this region and provide the impetus for growth,
    prosperity and unity among these countries. These are new and exciting times
    for Pakistanis who should now look forward to their new leadership role aligned
    with Central Asia and Europe rather than the Subcontinent. We wish them much
    success as they have sacrificed the most during the past 30 + years creating a
    new world order.

    December 9, 2011 at 3:35 am | Reply
  9. Eddie Russo

    Pakistan and the pakistani pple are nothing but a bunch of Terrorists, that's all. They have no respect for Humanity or human.. Their agenda is to kill and kill only.

    December 12, 2011 at 12:40 am | Reply
  10. Saba

    Pakistan exports terror

    December 13, 2011 at 2:32 am | Reply
  11. Insaaf

    WHY IS AMERICA GIVING EVEN A DIME TO PAKISTAN ( AN ENEMY, NEVER AN ALLY )

    Can any country shelter Bin Laden for 5 years near IT'S military academy, ONLY PAKISTAN

    Can any country proliferate Nuclear weapon technology to Iran , North Korea and Libya, ONLY PAKISTAN

    Can any country support HAQQANI Network so that it kills US Troops as they come home in BODYBAGS, Only
    Pakistan

    Can any country have its overseas citizens plan the TIME SQUARE bomb plot, ONLY PAKISTAN

    Can any country orchestrate the MUMBAI attacks on India , ONLY PAKISTAN

    Can any country nurture the TALIBAN TO KILL it's own people ( ALI MENTIONED Pakistani civialn deaths ) , ONLY Pakistan

    Can any country take 20 billion dollar aid and use it against India as opposed to feed its people, ONLY Pakistan

    Can any country attack the Taliban negotiator,destabilize Afganistan by training Afghan Taliban as a strategic weapon, ONLY Pakistan

    Can any country's citizen ( Khalid sheikh Mohammed) Pitch ideas to Bin Laden on flying planed into building on Sept 11, Only Pakistan

    Can any country's citizen ( David headley alais Dawood Gilani ) act as scout for the Mumbai Attacks , Only Pakistan

    Fareed Zakaria says that Pakistan is a Frankenstein's monster breeding Islamic Terrorism

    December 13, 2011 at 2:38 am | Reply
    • Danny

      If you think Imran Khan is "popular", "modern", lraeibl then you've got your facts wrong my friend.

      February 12, 2012 at 12:46 am | Reply
  12. aqeel abbasi

    how are you say pakistani army is traitor,i think traitoir's are you because you are thinking about this pakistani army,

    December 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Reply

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