We are reaching a point with Pakistan where the alliance is no longer tenable. The relationship is quite strange and based entirely on wink-and-nod diplomacy. The premise has been this: we are supposed to believe that (a) privately Pakistani intelligence and their armed services offer us access to key borderland territory; (b) Pakistan suffers more from al Qaeda-like terrorism than do we; (c) they provide us valuable covert information; (d) they keep their nukes under wraps; (e) they do not openly seek to destroy the Afghan government; (f) they are more duplicitous and two-faced with their Islamist friends than they are with us, their benefactors; and (g) they don’t start a war with India and develop even closer relations with China. All that is supposed to be worth the $3 billion in aid a year, putting up with the obnoxious public anti-American protests, and enduring the moronic lectures from Pakistani diplomats.
But even if all the above were true, it would not excuse Pakistan’s overt anti-American acts. In theory, the two worst things an “ally” could do to the United States, would be to obtain a nuclear weapon and franchise proliferation to others, and allow bin Laden de facto sanctuary in the suburbs of its capital city. Pakistan did both.
Continuance of the present policy of bribing Pakistani officials with foreign aid is based on the proverbial bad/worse choice: the current situation is terrible, the alternative of cutting aid is said to be even scarier—given that an angry Pakistan then might do what?
Hide bin Laden?
Develop a nuclear weapon?
Sell nuclear expertise abroad?
Consort with the Taliban?
Try to subvert the Karzai government?
Give intelligence to those killing U.S. troops?
Give a wink and nod to terrorist operations against India?
They do all that now.
What then might we do? I think the key would be to smile and praise Pakistani cooperation and then begin cutting U.S. aid by about 10% a month, without fanfare or publicity, until at the end of the year we're just “friends”. In addition, in matters of trade, immigration to the U.S., and diplomatic relations Pakistan’s status should be roughly equivalent with Syria’s. (But wait, would an enemy like Syria have dared to offer bin Laden a six-year villa on the outskirts of Damascus? Or would Syria have so overtly exported nuclear materials to North Korea or Libya? Dealing with such enemies is much easier when they are enemies and not called allies). In reality, we should simultaneously encourage much closer relations with a democratic, pro-American, English speaking, vibrant India—including a more prominent Indian presence in Afghanistan.
As far as I can tell the only support for continuing the status quo with Pakistan is fear that without the bribery things could get much worse. Perhaps, but reverse that: not giving them aid would be a bad situation, but could giving them aid be worse? As I understand it, the $4-5 billion we gave Pakistan between 1982-1990 was supposed to guarantee that they did not acquire the bomb. They eventually did, and so we imposed sanctions as well—until 9/11. We've tried aid, no aid, sanctions, full diplomatic relations, estrangement,etc. At this point, all have failed, and failure without $3 billion a year is better than failure costing $3 billion a year.