The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistani governments may be as tense as it's been since immediately after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when the United States launched an offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan and called on Pakistan to step up its counterterrorism efforts. Political and public outrage has mounted inside Pakistan in response to CIA-led missile strikes using unmanned drones, which reportedly have killed civilians, and in response to an incident in January when CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore. The tensions have sparked a series of high-level meetings between U.S. and Pakistani senior officials. On April 20, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, flew into Islamabad, where he bluntly criticized Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency for having ties to the Haqqani network, which sends militants into Afghanistan to attack U.S. and NATO forces. And the CIA has not backed down from carrying out drone operations in Pakistan, launching an attack April 22 that reportedly killed militants but also women and children.
The two governments are locked in a rocky but symbiotic relationship. The United States depends on Pakistan to allow it to continue counterterrorism operations inside the South Asian country. And the Pakistan government has been offered billions of dollars in U.S. economic and security assistance.
So this week, we ask our contributors for their perspective on where the U.S.-Pakistani relationship is heading and where it should be heading. Is the relationship nearing a breaking point, and what's at stake for U.S. national security interests and the war effort in Afghanistan? Can the United States confidently withdraw forces as planned from Afghanistan if Pakistan does not do more to combat militants in the tribal regions? Or does the U.S. government have unrealistic expectations when it comes to Pakistan? How much operational control, if any, should the CIA be willing to give up in the country? What should both governments do to get past the current tensions?