May 16, 2011 | National Review Online

Our Pakistan Problem

Immediately after the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a posh mansion north of Islamabad, questions were raised about Pakistan’s involvement in sheltering the al-Qaeda chief. These suspicions were confirmed yesterday, when CIA director Leon Panetta told Time magazine that Pakistan was not trusted with foreknowledge of the raid: “It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets.” The CIA didn’t fear that news of the raid would leak, but that bin Laden would be tipped off.

Panetta’s comments highlight the harsh truth: Pakistan is not the ally U.S. policymakers wish it to be. Pakistan shelters many of America’s enemies, including but not limited to the Taliban and their leader Mullah Omar, the deadly al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the perpetrators of the 2008 terror assault in Mumbai. Despite Pakistan’s support for regional and global terror groups, U.S. policymakers have continued to funnel billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars to Pakistan in an effort to coax the country’s elites into joining the war against terror groups. It hasn’t worked, and in fact only serves to reinforce bad behavior.

The U.S. needs to dramatically alter its relationship with Pakistan. For starters, all aid to the country should be cut off. Second, the U.S. should stop coddling Pakistan and be honest about the country’s support for terror groups; covering up Pakistan’s support for them merely exacerbates the problem. Third, the U.S. needs to seek alternative supply routes to Afghanistan and make a commitment to remain in country, since the U.S. presence there is crucial to keeping an eye on Pakistan. This is easier said than done, as the alternate routes to the north are costly and put us at the mercy of Russia and the Obama administration is signaling that it seeks to leave Afghanistan. Fourth, the U.S. should increase its ties with India, a natural ally that is also threatened by Pakistan’s state sponsorship of terror. Concern over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons should not deter us from these actions, but rather should strengthen our resolve to make sure the weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.

Bill Roggio is editor of The Long War Journal and senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.