A major shift in the politics between America and Pakistan have changed over the last few days. Barely a month after accusing Pakistan's spy agency of funding and aiding the Haqqani terrorist organization, based in northern Pakistan, the United States is asking for that same intelligence organization to aid in reconciliation talks to end the war in Afghanistan.
This persistent request for aid comes after another attack by the Haqqani organization on Saturday, October 29th, that killed over 17 individuals including a number of Americans. Secretary of State Clinton hopes that through the talks and use of Pakistani intelligence,named the Inter-Service Intelligence agency or ISI, that the hostilities in Afghanistan can be reduced, in preparation for the removal of over 33,000 American troops. However, the major problem with this is that many in the Pakistani government have differing views, that are in conflict with American policies.
It is assumed that the Pakistani government is hesitant to aid the United States, due to the belief that the Haqqani organization will be the best way for Pakistan to maintain influence in Afghanistan after America pulls troops out in 2014. Due to this, they are playing cards extremely close to the vest, and are not giving much direct intelligence or support to the American government. For now, Pakistani officials are stating that they are confused about American long term-goals in Afghanistan, and are wanting to better define the terms before anything concrete is decided. This is made even more confusing by Secretary Clinton's comment about wanting to both fight and negotiate with the Haqqani organization.
Frankly, this change in the political position between the United States and Pakistan is both disconcerting, yet when looking at other facts expected. The first thing that should be considered is the current political upheaval in Pakistan. Former cricket star Imran Khan led over 100,000 protesters in an anti-government rally. This presents a weakness and an opening for the American government to attempt to turn Pakistan into a friend, with promises of political support, especially since Khan opposes cooperating with the U.S. against militants, the push for a connection creates the seeming friendship between countries that can lead to more support for the Pakistani government, especially in the international stage. Another thought is that the Pakistani government is apparently open to the idea, according to the dissent in this rally, so American officials may be trying to capitalize on this apparent opening.
This cooperation also plays into the strategic planning of the Obama administration. This administration promotes the use of international acceptance and aid, rather than creating an apparent hegemony. By coming to Pakistan, Secretary Clinton hopes to further this joint effort for reconstruction.
Unfortunately, Pakistan is not nearly as weak or open to the aiding American interests as could be assumed from the previous political actions throughout the country. Pakistan is taking a position of power, holding the information as a bargaining chip with American diplomats. Furthermore, while America has taken unilateral actions, Pakistan has no fear that the negotiations will ever cease; or that there will be any punishment for their actions. On top of this, Pakistan focuses on hegemonic power. As long as the probability for gaining influence in Afghanistan through the Haqqani movement, they will be unlikely to provide the aid to American officials.
This creates the problem of the apparent weakness of the United States. With Pakistan taking the upper hand, and America being hesitant to go against them, there is the ability that the United States will lose a bit of the credibility or influence that is currently in the Middle East, an area that historically responds to power. In order to keep this credibility America must follow through on it's current strategic path. Secretary Clinton stated that there would be unilateral actions, and drone strikes have backed up this statement. In order to continue to maintain this power and gain Pakistan's respect, the United States government cannot go back and forth on positions, and maintain the aggressive course that has been proposed.