The report “A Transatlantic Pakistan Policy” highlights the need for increased cooperation between the United States and Europe in countering the growth in nuclear weapons which poses an increasingly serious risk to global security. In the report the authors emphasise the point that the United States and Europe should have a more directed and mutually coordinated policy vis-à-vis Pakistan. Many of the problems in Pakistan have both regional and global implications. Connections with terrorism and radical movements that are cultivated and trained in Pakistan constitute such a problem area. The country has major economic and administrative problems. According to the report, civil-military relations are strained and the police force does not function as it should.
“In the past, western attention has been focused on Afghanistan. But the United States and Europe should focus more on the development of nuclear weapons in Pakistan. The country’s nuclear weapons arsenal is increasing and Pakistan’s attitude to nuclear weapons is also problematic since such weapons are regarded as militarily usable and not only as deterrents”, says John Rydqvist, Asia Security Studies programme manager and security expert at FOI.
Since the Second World War and the partition of India, Pakistan has created and nurtured paramilitary forces for its own national purposes. Local guerrilla movements came into being, for example in areas such as Kashmir, to fight for or against belonging to India rather than Pakistan. As a means of being able to defend itself against India, Pakistan has permitted guerrilla warfare to complement the capabilities of its regional forces.
The ideological currents that emerged in Afghanistan were initially focused on forming a new government and a new society. The Taliban took power in Kabul and kept it for a time during the 1990s. Following the American military action against the Taliban in 2001 and onwards, the Taliban withdrew to Pakistan. There they had a safe haven in the tribal areas in the north which are subject to special, antiquated colonial laws, and where the state has little control,” says John Rydqvist.
Parts of the armed groups previously nurtured by Pakistan then turned against Pakistan itself which they regard as having become too western oriented. This applies particularly to the Pakistani Taliban.
“The ideological currents that emerged in Afghanistan are also closely connected with the global jihadist movement and, during the 1990s, on the basis of these same ideas, Al-Qaeda came into being,” says John Rydqvist. The fact that Taliban groups have a safe haven in Pakistan is problematic politically and is a cause of tension and friction between the transatlantic countries and Pakistan. The United Sates and Europe cannot solve Pakistan’s problems but better coordination in a transatlantic context may perhaps contribute to an improvement in the situation.
Read more about The Asia Security Studies Programme at FOI