America

Obama Delivering Tough Love Message To Pakistan

Fascinating post over at The Cable. A bunch of high level Pakistani officials are in Washington this week, in some 13 different working groups on the whole strategic relationship between the US and Pakistan.

But the Cable says Obama himself dropped in unannounced on one meeting, to deliver the message that time is running out for Pakistani action. And he's not the only member of his administration taking a tougher tone.

Earlier Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropped in unannounced on another meeting between Special Representative Richard Holbrooke and Kayani. She delivered the message that Washington's patience is wearing thin with Pakistan's ongoing reluctance to take a more aggressive stance against militant groups operating from Pakistan over the Afghan border. A similar message was delivered to Kayani in another high-level side meeting Wednesday morning at the Pentagon, hosted by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, two senior government sources said.

The message being delivered to Pakistan throughout the week by the Obama team is that its effort to convince Pakistan to more aggressively combat groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba will now consist of both carrots and sticks. But this means that the U.S. administration must find a way incentivize both the Pakistani civilian and military leadership, which have differing agendas and capabilities.

The carrots are pretty obvious, billions of dollars in US aid to Pakistan. Exactly what the sticks are is a bit murkier.

I always find these kinds of stories interesting. Obviously someone thinks it is in their interest to couch private meetings in one way or another, in this case that the US is getting tough with Pakistan. That doesn't mean it isn't completely true, but it does mean you should read it with a jaundiced eye. There's always the danger that someone is trying to win some internal bickering match by telling you what's "really" going on. The version that's in the press then becomes reality. On the other hand, it is pretty interesting stuff. Ah, well. Caveat emptor.

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