Fletcher in the News

Interview: Prof. Nasr on Revisiting US Strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Asia Society

U.S.-Pakistani relations have been fractured by a series of political disagreements and mistrust following the Bin Laden assassination and November 2011 border clashes between NATO and Pakistani troops. Similarly, American relations with Afghanistan have been strained by the recent Quran burnings and thekilling of Afghan civilians by American soldiers. As international forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, America drastically needs to rebuild trust with both Pakistan and Afghanistan for the sake of the region's future stability. As professor of International Politics at the Tufts Fletcher School and recently appointed Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Vali Nasr says in the following interview with Asia Blog, "The U.S. has to revisit the usefulness of its current strategy of pressure on Pakistan. It is not working."

Nasr will be at Asia Society to discuss the future of diplomatic ties between the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan along with Saeed Shafqat, an expert in the field of South Asian studies and a former professor at Columbia University, on April 12, 2012 as part of the HBO Series on Asian Hotspots. For those who can't attend in person, a free live video webcast will be offered on AsiaSociety.org/Live at 6:30 pm ET; online viewers are encouraged to submit questions to moderator@asiasociety.org.

Asia Blog interviewed Nasr via email in advance of his appearance at Asia Society.

What do you see as the most critical challenges facing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States as the international forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan?

The greatest challenges are that the end of the war is coming at a time of deep disagreement between the three. Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have never been good, but now they are more frail than at any time since 2009. Similarly, U.S. relations with both Afghanistan and Pakistan have suffered over the past year. The insurgency is still there and that makes seeing an orderly and satisfactory end to this conflict difficult.

What are some of the assumptions that the United States must reconsider in its policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan?

rst, the U.S. has to reconsider the assumption that Afghanistan will actually remain stable after the U.S. leaves. There is a potential for Karzai's trying to stay in power after 2014, precipitating political conflict. Afghanistan is also susceptible to resumption of the civil war, and the Taliban may well gain the upper hand and threaten Kabul. The U.S. has been working off of a narrative that justifies troop withdrawal based on short-run indicators, but that narrative does not adequately reflect ground reality. The U.S. has to revisit the usefulness of its current strategy of pressure on Pakistan. It is not working: Pakistan has not become more cooperative, but rather is facing a new set of threats that could undermine our project for Afghanistan.

Read the full interview (more)

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