Washington, July 16 : A leading expert on South Asian affairs has said that the United States can help Pakistan re-orient its strategic perceptions by focusing on defusing tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The United States can also step up its diplomatic initiatives to prevent the derailment of the ongoing Indo-Pakistani talks following the attack on the Indian embassy in Afghanistan, said Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow on South Asia at The Washington-based The Heritage Foundation.
However, she cautions the Bush Administration to weigh its options carefully, especially when it comes to the possibility of launching unilateral military operations in insurgent-dominant areas of Pakistan.
She believes that such a step carries the risk of losing Pakistan's partnership in the global war on terror.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, Curtis says it must shift its strategy against militants "in a way that demonstrates it is firmly on the side of the coalition forces in Afghanistan."
Pakistan, she says cannot afford to view the region from its own geo-strategic perspective, and must understand that "unless it pursues a zero-tolerance policy toward militancy, the government will almost certainly lead the country down a path of destruction and international isolation."
In her article for The Heritage Foundation, Curtis says the core of a new, coalition-based approach to Pakistan should include:
(1) The recognition that events in Pakistan present a threat to global security.
(2) That there is a need for extending support to the newly elected civilian government with the understanding that democratic transition is an important part of combating extremism and terrorism in Pakistan over the long term. (3) That there should be a commitment to bringing stable democracy to Afghanistan, which includes preventing the retrenchment of warlords, scaling back poppy production, and avoiding a return to the Taliban's repressive, extremist policies in any part of the country.
(4) That Pakistan must play its part in denying the Taliban safe harbour on its territory by enforcing the rule of law in the tribal areas against any elements supporting terrorism or cross-border operations into Afghanistan.
(5) Support should be built up for the appointment of a U.S. presidential envoy dedicated to the task of promoting better relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan that will also coordinate closely with allies.
(6) There must be support for a multilateral balance-of-payments support package that helps stabilize Pakistan's economy in the short term but is conditioned on Pakistan taking specific steps to address longer-term economic imbalances and.
(7)There must support for high-level strategic dialogue with Pakistan on regional security.