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Diplomacy of Estrangement: The Dealings of the United States with Pakistan before 9/11

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Diplomatic correspondence between Washington and the American Embassy in Islamabad published by the National Security Archive shows that during the last 35 years of the twentieth century American diplomacy toward Pakistan faced a mutually de-escalating relationship. Pakistan wanted American economic and military assistance as well as support in its conflicts with India. The United States was ready to aid Pakistan, but only so far as Islamabad respected American demands. These focused on containing Soviet influence in the region and, more recently, fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The United States also asked Pakistan to refrain from manufacturing nuclear weapons. To enforce this policy, successive American administrations showered Pakistan with sanctions. These sanctions were lifted again and again, because they undercut American diplomatic influence with the Pakistani government. Washington did not intend to support Pakistan in its conflicts with India. Pakistan let down the United States by not using its leverage over the Taliban to capture Osama Bin Laden. Mistrust resulting from this roller coaster relationship should have warned American diplomats not to take Pakistan's support in the war in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and the Taliban for granted.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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