Sanctioning Pakistan or declaring it a state sponsor of terrorism could backfire, the United States lawmakers were warned at a congressional hearing.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on U.S.-Pakistan relations and had a lively debate on the issue whose transcript was released yesterday.
Senator Bob Corker, the committee's chairman in his opening statement expressed frustration with Pakistan's alleged lack of cooperation in defeating militant groups still active in neighbouring Afghanistan.
In order to make Pakistan cooperate, Senator Corker, a Republican, and Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the committee asked the witnesses to explain what measures U.S. policymakers could take.
"In order to justify major policy shifts like eliminating aid, labelling Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism or enacting sanctions, U.S. policymakers should be able to explain how such actions would make America's strategic predicament better, " Dawn quoted one of the witnesses, Prof. Daniel Markey of the Johns Hopkins University as saying.
He added that Islamabad would need to consider the possibility that coercion could backfire, raising tensions and making Islamabad less willing or able to advance any constructive agenda.
He was of the opinion that next U.S. president could take "a far more coercive approach" with Pakistan than the outgoing president, Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, Toby Dalton, a co-director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that there was a vast difference between what the U.S. should and could do.
"Ideally, the United States and others should seek ways to convince Pakistan to flatten the growth curve of its nuclear programme. The honest assessment is, however, that since Pakistan embarked on a nuclear weapons programme, very little the U.S. has tried, whether sanctions or inducements, has had an appreciable impact," he said.
Recalling that this May, the Senate put a hold on allowing Pakistan to use U.S. funds for buying F-16 aircraft, "which I think is appropriate" said Senator Corker.
The senator claimed that the Afghan militant Haqqani network's leaders had been living in Pakistan and the Pakistani Government knew where they lived but would not cooperate with U.S.' efforts to eliminate them.
While noting that banning Pakistan from using U.S. funds to buy F-16s was very complicated, senator Cardin said that Islamabad was a strategic partner in the war against terrorism but the U.S. still had major concerns about that relationship, "as they seem to be very selective in fighting terrorism".
Senator Perdue meanwhile, said that of $19 billion provided to Pakistan since September 11, 2001, only $8 billion were actually for security efforts, while $11billion were for humanitarian purposes.
Prof. Markey said that U.S. assistance to Pakistan should be divided into three categories.
"Category one, things where they want and we want. Category two, we and they want similar things but they want to do it differently than we think is right. Category three, areas where we want to tell them what we think they should do and we believe they are not doing," he added.