“The key thing to bear in mind is that the administration is not naive about Pakistan,” an Obama administration official said. “The problem with the Pakistanis is that the more you threaten them, the more they become entrenched and don’t see a path forward with you.”
Frustrating, to be sure, but borne out of a lot of experience over two administrations (to speak just about the current context). Pakistan isn’t a monolith, either: there are competing centers of authority, with competing interests, competing resources, and, often, miscalculations. The Pakistanis have also shown great fortitude in combatting the TTP over the past 18 months. There’s no alternative to dealing with them, even if there’s no emotional satisfaction in doing so.
Update, 5:44 p.m.: Josh Mull comments & tweets at me to clarify who I’m talking about dealing with, which is another perfectly fair point for a post that talks about not treating Pakistan as a monolith. I’d say the civilian government; the Pakistani military leadership; and, indeed, the ISI. That’s not to say that we should dump cash on their laps without attaching any strings. But it is to say that we’d probably have less leverage or ability to influence the behavior of various Pakistani actors if we severed ties. There’s a great deal of gradation in between those two choices, and so it’s a matter of balance. It wouldn’t be a bad thing for the aid in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, for instance, to remain focused on civilian governance and economic development; and I recall Ryan Crocker arguing that one of the best tools available for changing the Pakistani perception of the U.S. is to lower textile tariffs to Pakistani imports. So maybe those are some fruitful avenues to explore.