Thus Washington’s dependence on Pakistan effectively amounts to American support for a Pakistani military-economic complex that churns out terrorists that are used as strategic weapons. The same complex is the world’s most flagrant nuclear proliferator. American backing – $25 billion in (mostly military) aid over the decade since 9/11 – also reinforces the domestic dominance of the Pakistani military, which pursues confrontation with India, quashes domestic dissent, and lionizes Islamists at the expense of domestic development.
A military “alliance with the United States,” Mr. Haqqani wrote, “became as important a part of…consolidating the Pakistani state as Islam and opposition to Hindu India.”
After 10 more turbulent years in the region, it remains unclear what benefits Washington’s indiscriminate support has produced. When Islamabad closed its supply routes to NATO several months ago, Washington was finally forced to face facts: Based on little common ground, the relationship is mutually destructive.
Seeking a backup, NATO expanded its use of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a northern route from the Baltic and Black Seas, across Russia through the Caucasus and Central Asia to Afghanistan. This shift reduced Washington’s dependence on Pakistan for over 70 percent of its supplies and fuel in previous years to less than 30 percent by the end of 2011.
But Russia and Kyrgyzstan have already threatened to close their supply lines seeking political concessions, while the northern route forces Washington to turn a blind eye to some of Central Asia’s most unsavory dictators. And because supplies have to cross thousands of miles and dozens of borders over a mix of road, rail, and sea, the northern route can cost more than five times shipping via the Arabian Sea.
Not to mention, the last time Washington abruptly abandoned Islamabad – in 1990, after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan – it was forced to return, hat in hand, to resume its geographic dependence on Pakistan in 2001, lacking a viable alternative.