In a recent interview with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, he comments from firsthand experience about the key challenges facing the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan. He says:
One of our most serious challenges in foreign policy is the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan—the Pakistani policy towards Afghanistan and towards extremism and terror in general. Pakistan has been both an ally and an adversary on these issues at the same time. It is perhaps in a unique class of countries where it’s both a foe and a friend.
In this brief, Khalilzad also highlights that a new mindset is needed in the region. Rather than viewing challenges or the ‘other’ through the lense of geopolitical rivalry, a more modern approach is needed. “Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the intersecting areas of the Greater Middle East, Asia, and Africa is very much reminiscent of old Europe, where countries were constantly trying to cause problems for each other.” Today, through earnest efforts in economic cooperation, “the Europeans have achieved a greater level of security and prosperity than ever in their history.”
Larger stakes are addressed in the brief, such as the need for the U.S. to pay greater attention to Central and East Asia, while keeping watch in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. No small challenges exist. Please read some fascinating foreign policy prose in DCFR’s Global Themes brief, “Pakistan, Afghanistan, and U.S. Power: An Interview with Zalmay Khalilzad, former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the U.N.”