Home inContext A Pakistan-U.S. Reset?

A Pakistan-U.S. Reset?

Samara Greenberg

A parliamentary commission in Pakistan charged with recommending ways to restructure Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. announced its demands on Tuesday. The commission was called after ties between the two states were all but severed following the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border by NATO airstrikes.

As part of its new rules of engagement, the commission demanded the cessation of drone strikes inside Pakistan, “no hot pursuit or boots on Pakistani territory” — an apparent reference to the Osama bin Laden raid, and for the activities of foreign private security contractors to be “transparent and subject to Pakistani law.” In addition, the committee called for an “unconditional apology from the United States” for the November attacks and argued for an increase in taxes on “all goods importing in or transiting through Pakistan.” Shortly after the November incident, Islamabad closed the U.S. and NATO supply routes from Pakistan to Afghanistan. If reopened, the U.S. should expect higher fees on shipments.

Pakistani protesters demonstrate against drone attacks. (Photo: EPA)

Washington and Pakistan have long had rough relations, with drone strikes being a major point of contention. In the coming weeks, after the recommendations are debated, the Pakistani parliament will likely approve of a new set of rules for U.S.-Pakistani relations that may even include an end to drone strikes. But with the Pakistani military in control of the country’s policy on such matters, strikes are expected to continue so that Islamabad may still receive its billions of dollars in aid from Washington.

If Pakistan were truly interested in coordinating with American and NATO troops to definitively root out the extremists living along its border with Afghanistan, drone strikes would likely be unnecessary. Until then, Washington should use every tool in its arsenal to combat the extremists interested in derailing any gains made in Afghanistan once U.S. troops leave by the end of 2014.