Washington and Islamabad: The Rocky Road to Peaceful Relations

Pakistan was always known for spreading nuclear technology to Iran and North Korea, reckless behavior in India, supporting jihadist groups, and consistent refusal to adopt policies for civilian investment, rather than military investment (Fair 2012).

After 9/11, the Pakistan government was given an opportunity in its foreign relations by teaming up with the U.S. to fight terrorism.

The year 2011 really started to shape the relationship between Washington and Islamabad. First, there were killings of two violent ISI intelligent officers by a CIA contractor. Shortly after, DEVGRUV (U.S. Navy SEALs) killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan near the country’s military academy, without any consent from Islamabad (Fair 2012).

Washington refused to apologize publicly for both of these acts and they still refuse to apologize for drone attacks within Pakistani borders (Fair 2012).

The response from Islamabad after the Bin Laden raid was shutting down all routes of supply to Afghanistan. However, there have been governmental changes in Islamabad. In 2012, the Supreme Court in Pakistan eliminated civilian government (Fair 2012). Then in 2013, the country of Pakistan welcomed a total positive change of leadership in Islamabad, with the approval of Washington (Kugleman 2014) 

Then dawning events occurred; “General Khalid Kidwai logged his last day as head of the Strategic Plan Division (SPD), the entity in charge of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.” The General was praised for patriotism because he advanced his country’s nuclear arsenal. Kidwai was also looked upon greatly by the international community for security of Pakistan’s nukes (Kugleman 2014).

A new leader has been set into place, General Hayat, a Pakistani army general with a great reputation (Kugleman 2014). The new General causes uncertainty in Washington.

Pakistan has been creating vast amounts of nuclear warheads for small battles and short range targets (Bienaime 2014). Is this specifically intended for the country of India? It appears so. These two countries have a rough past and they currently despise each other too.

America has put Pakistan’s nuclear projects on high alert. We the public know this thanks to ex-NSA agent Edward Snowden[1].

Soon after, Pakistan stated there is a plan on making nuclear warheads so small that they would be able to launch them in sea waters. A valid point is made by the Pakistanis with the naval nuclear war head, “A warhead-toting navy would allow Pakistan to stay nuclear-capable regardless of what happens to its homeland, where its nuclear infrastructure is spread out” (Bienaime 2014).

Should the U.S be worried by this? Yes and no.

Yes, because nuclear warfare could occur. The U.S. being a world leader would intervene in the warfare.

No, because India is Pakistan’s main concern.

There is another problem with the nuclear project in Pakistan though. That is, will Pakistan give these small battle nukes to Jihadist groups that resent western countries, mainly the U.S.?

This is definitely possible. Pakistan-U.S. relations have been very inconsistent. If the U.S does something effecting Islamabad or Islamabad takes a negative-cost signal[2] from India, there will be nuclear warfare occurring. This warfare could be started by a Jihadist group or Pakistan itself.

A high risk problem the world is looking at is if Pakistan takes India’s “the triad”[3] as a threat (Bienaime 2014). All it takes is one negative cost-signal to occur and countries will be in shambles.

Every country should be concerned when nuclear warfare is occurring. The high level targeted U.S. should especially be concerned. Washington needs to secure our safety by strengthening Pakistani relations. How does the U.S. do this?

The U.S. needs to send a cost signal through financial and economic policies.

Washington funds Pakistan’s bail-out finances with the IMF (Tisdall 2011).

More largely, Pakistan needs the U.S. to keep supporting their economy. The U.S. is their largest export destination[4]. Washington needs to send this cost signal to prevent nuclear warfare between Pakistan and India.

Pakistan is economically interdependent on the U.S. while the U.S. is diplomatically interdependent on Pakistan. In order to keep peace with Pakistan, the U.S. needs to take peaceful action by sending an economic cost signal.

[1] Edward Snowden leaked many NSA documents to the public. One of the documents is a surveillance program of the Pakistan’s nuclear technology, the quantity of nukes, and the possible plans with the nukes (Kugleman 2014).

[2] “Costly signaling is making small but significant gestures that serve to prove that one is trustworthy” (Kydd 2005). When cost signals are implied in a negative way, then it is proving distrust.

[3]  The triad is India’s nuclear warfare program to launch their nuclear ability in sea, air, and land. (Bienaime 2014).

[4] The U.S. imports a great deal of linen materials, which is Pakistan’s lead export material. The U.S. imports 14% of Pakistani exports. (http://atlas.media.mit.edu/profile/country/pak/)


One thought on “Washington and Islamabad: The Rocky Road to Peaceful Relations

  1. The tensions between Pakistan and India have certainly not gotten better over the years, and the nuclear capacity for each nation makes the situation even more drastic. It will be interesting and a bit nerve-wracking to see what move Pakistan takes next in its nuclear program and what else the U.S. will do to address this issue.


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