IN OTHER WORDS: What works
Pakistan’s new civilian prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, is in Washington this week for what we are sure will be a difficult set of meetings. Gilani’s constituents deeply resent the US for propping up and enabling their former dictator, Pervez Musharraf. President Bush, who directed that enabling, must have his own serious doubts about Gilani’s willingness to fight Taliban and Al Qaeda forces that are using Pakistan as a safe haven.
That is why Bush needs to use this visit to recast relations — making clear that he is committed to strengthening both Pakistan’s democracy and its ability to fight extremism. That will require a lot more economic assistance and more carefully monitored military aid. For their part, Pakistan’s civilian leaders must provide more effective governance. They must tell
their voters that extremism also threatens Pakistan — and that this is not just America’s fight.
Congress should hold its nose and approve this year’s F-16 money, plus additional emergency funds for the helicopters and goggles. That way, Pakistan will have reliable funding for future social programmes and be able to focus American military aid on counterterrorism. It is an imperfect solution but could be the start of a better relationship — one that promotes democracy and the fight against Al Qaeda.